Mote President and CEO Dr. Michael Crosby watches in pride as 23-month-old Violet Muir shows her excitement for the new exhibit. Violet is the daughter of Erin Muir, the foundation’s events and membership manager. MOTE/Contributed

A comprehensive exhibit showcasing the unique ecosystem of the Florida Keys has landed permanently at Keys History & Discovery Center, MM 82. The permanent exhibit, Coral Reef Exploration, features three aquariums, educational storyboards, interactive kiosks, video monitors and a game geared to children. The exhibit focuses on providing a beautiful and educational view of our unique coral reef ecosystem and the challenges it faces.

The largest of the aquariums, at 1,250 gallons, showcases species making their home around the Florida Keys coral reefs, including angel fish, butterfly fish, tangs and wrasse. Guests can get up close and personal with invasive lionfish in a 280-gallon aquarium, and check out live coral, crustaceans and reef fish living in a second 280-gallon aquarium.

The exhibit is a result of a partnership between Mote Marine Laboratory and Florida Keys History and Discovery Foundation, which operates the Discovery Center.

“The Florida Keys coral reefs are a national and international treasure,” said Dr. Michael Crosby, Mote president and CEO, “and Mote looks forward to working closely with the Discovery Center as we expand our local community outreach and partnerships in the Keys.”

Mote President and CEO Dr. Michael Crosby chats with Islander Resort owners David and Annette Curry. MOTE/Contributed

“The creation of this extensive exhibit for our community is a game-changer for the Keys History & Discovery Center,” said Foundation President Rich Russell. “Our goals within our mission ‘to support a world-class history and discovery center’ have reached new heights with this permanent addition.”

The $250,000 project was funded in part by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council and through in-kind contributions from Mote, including annual maintenance and upkeep. An additional $171,000 was raised through a capital campaign.

More information is available from Foundation Executive Director Jill Miranda Baker at 305-922-2237 or via email at [email protected].

– Contributed

An overview of the Coral Reef Exploration exhibit with the three aquariums, kiosks, tablets and storyboards. MOTE/Contributed

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