mote magazine, autumn 2013

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Learn about shark research at the nation's only Congressionally designated Center for Shark Research; how scientists are restoring coral reefs and how Florida's snook are making a comeback. Mote Magazine is published by Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, a nonprofit marine research organization dedicated to today's research for tomorrow's oceans. By telling the stories of sea science, Mote hopes to enhance public understanding of marine research and conservation.



    I N S I D E M O T E M A G A Z I N E

    Events Calendar 2

    Restoring Life to Floridas Reef 3

    Snook: A Comeback Story 6

    Shark On! 8

    Cool Cuttlefish 11

    Hands-On Science 12

    Mote Milestones 14

    Born to Give 16

    A U T U M N 2 0 1 3


    SPECIAL EVENTSMote 2013 Events Calendar

    OCTOBEROctober 18. Night of Fish, Fun & Fright. 6:30-9 p.m. Safe trick-or-treat event in The Aquarium at Mote. $6 online in advance; Mote Members pay $8 at the door. Non-members, $10 at the door. Kids 3 and younger get in free.

    October 26. Oceanic Evening, Motes annual black-tie fundraiser at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Call Stacy Alexander for info, 941-388-4441, ext. 509, or email

    NOVEMBERNovember 15-18. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. 4th annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition on Siesta Key Beach. 10 teams of expert sculptors from the U.S. and abroad will meet at the No. 1 beach to compete for the title. Proceeds help support Motes sea turtle conservation and research programs. Admission $5 per person, per day.

    November 15-16. Youth Ocean Conservation Summit and Film Festival. Details to be posted at

    Three years after a cold snap closed snook fishing, it reopens this month on the Gulf Coast.


    PRESIDENT & CEOMichael P. Crosby, Ph.D.

    EDITORNadine Slimak

    CREATIVE DIRECTORLawson Mitchell

    CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rachel Easterbrook, Hayley Rutger, Nadine Slimak

    CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERSErich Bartels, Lawson Mitchell, Kassie OBrien, Jason Robertshaw, Nadine Slimak

    PUBLISHING PARTNERMote Magazine is proud to recognize Sarasota Magazine as its publishing partner. For information on sponsorship, please contact Sarasota Magazine at 941-487-1109.

    AUTUMN 2013 VOLUME 65INFO: 941-388-4441 MOTE.ORG

    MOTE MAGAZINE n A unique mission.Mote Magazine (ISSN 1553-1104) is published by Mote Marine Laboratory, a nonprofit organization dedicated to todays research for tomorrows oceans. By telling the stories of sea science, Mote hopes to enhance public understanding of marine research and conservation.

    Taking The Plunge?

    Mote AquariumVenue Rentals

    Call Paula Clark for details:

    (941) 388-2252 or e-mail


    RESTORING LIFE TO FLORIDAS REEFCombat Wounded & Injured Veterans, SCUBAnauts Team Up With Mote

    FLORIDAS CORAL REEF got a boost in July when volunteers from the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge and SCUBAnauts International St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs Chapters joined

    scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory at

    work in Motes coral reef nursery in the

    Florida Keys.

    More than six years ago, Mote established an underwater coral nursery where scientists grow fragments of coral par-ticularly the threatened staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) for replanting on decimated or damaged sections of reef within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

    When the corals reach a suitable size, new coral fragments are snipped off, or

    propagated, to create new corals similar to the way new plants are grown from cuttings of existing plants. To give Motes gardening efforts a boost, youngsters and veterans helped Mote scientists hang snipped fragments of coral on special trees constructed of PVC and anchored to the ocean floor where the corals could continue to grow.

    By joining forces, Mote is able to involve citizen scientists in reef restoration. It also helps produce more coral fragments to help restore Floridas reef. By the end of the two-day mission, the SCUBAnauts and Veterans produced nearly 2,000 coral fragments, bringing the number of staghorn corals growing in Motes nursery to about 10,000.

    The partnership allows the SCUBAnauts to learn more about real-world conservation and it helps the veterans demonstrate to other combat wounded veterans that anything can be overcome. Vulneror non Vincor: I am wounded-not conquered, is the teams inspirational motto. Through this cross-mentorship program, SCUBA-naut youth and veterans overcome personal challenges to create a positive change for the reefs and each other.


    This is the second year that the SCUBA-nauts and participants in the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge have worked with Mote to help maintain and propagate corals from the nursery. We worked with the SCUBAnauts and veterans last year and were really impressed by their enthusiasm, efficiency and skill, said Erich

    By Nadine Slimak

    Erich Bartels/Mote Marine Laboratory

  • Bartels, manager of Motes Coral Reef Science and Monitoring Program who oversees the coral nursery project. Having these groups with us really gives our project many extra sets of hands so we can propagate more coral for restoration.

    SCUBAnauts Internationals mission is to guide youths ages 12 through 18 along a pathway for personal development by involving them in the marine sciences. Twenty SCUBAnauts and two snorkelnauts

    participated this year.

    The Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge

    improves the lives of wounded and

    injured veterans through rehabilitative

    high-adventure and therapeutic outdoor

    challenges while furthering the physiologi-

    cal, biomedical and pathological sciences

    associated with their injuries. Eight combat

    wounded and injured veterans partici-


    This is the second year Ive come out for this challenge, said U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Billy Costello, a transfemoral amputee who lost his right leg after stepping on a landmine when he was deployed to Afghanistan. Its amazing to see how much some of the coral had grown since last year and to see the progress that Motes doing on the science. And teaming up with the SCUBAnauts its just great to see these kids know what to do underwater and take com-mand of the situation when they need to. This is a really impressive set of kids.

    The kids were no less impressed by the veterans. I cant help but feel excited and proud of what Im doing to help the ocean and the fish that live in the ocean, said Mia Foisy, 13, of Tarpon Springs, after spending the morning working side-by-side underwater with John Kremer, Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class (Ret.), who lost both legs after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan. He was making his first dive since his injury. It is really amazing to work with the veterans. Sometimes I think I have a problem, but to watch and see the problems theyve overcome, well, I think how could I not overcome my own problem?

    Thats exactly what SCUBAnaut and combat wounded veteran Challenge organizers hope both groups come away with, said Dr. Elizabeth Moses, chief scientist for SCUBAnauts International. Through a team-based approach between youth and the Combat Wounded Veterans, we expect to see not only an increased appreciation and understanding of our oceans natural resources found within our National Marine Sanctuaries but an appreciation for the amazing feats of our nations veterans and youth.

    The underwater challenge along with other expeditions the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge participants undertake also allows the veterans to lead by example, said David Olson, the groups founder. Our wounded servicemen and women make a powerful impact and example on youth and those who face similar circumstances. Through these


    Participants in the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge and teens from SCUBAnauts International work side-by-side in Motes underwater coral nursery.

    Dive equipment manufacturer Oceanic provided fins and other gear for the combat wounded veterans during their expedition to Motes underwater coral nursery.

    Erich Bartels/Mote Marine Laboratory


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    challenge experiences, they demonstrate to others that despite their injuries, they too, can overcome seemingly insurmountable personal challenges, while advancing rehabilitative research. Challenge, research, inspire are the principals that govern our program.

    During this mission, combat wounded veterans also collected valuable information and medical data through a partnership with St. Petersburg College. The data theyre gathering contribute to the science of human performance, rehabilitation and recreation in extreme aquatic environments.

    Without a doubt, the hardest mission these combat wounded and injured veterans have ever been on is the mission of continuing to serve a purpose in their life and to improve the quality of their lives with their families, said Aviation Ordnanceman Master Chief Will Wilson, the Deputy Chief of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge. Its good for us to dive as a team and to help science and reestablish a coral reef. Weve got one ocean and weve got to take care of it. And anytime you get top side from a dive and youre seeing people smiling from ear to ear well, thats all good.

    The restoration is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Nature Conservancys Community-Based Restoration Program, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (, private donors, Fury Watersports in Key West, Mote and its Protect Our Reefs license plate program, Naval Air Station Key West, Trumbo Point, and the U.S. Army Special Forces Underwater Operations S