Florida Bay Habitats
70% of the fish in tropical and subtropical waters – like Southwest Florida's – are either born or grow up in estuaries where the rivers meet the sea and salt and fresh water mix. Meet some of the fish that call estuaries home: cowfish, filefish, puffers and striped burr fish, and get to know Florida’s premiere gamefish – the snook.
Also available: The Grassflats Exhibit, where you’ll see how estuary animals hide and live within seagrass blades. Meet horseshoe crabs and sea stars, fighting conch and sea urchins.
A highlight of Mote Aquarium's indoor exhibits featuring bay inhabitants is the seahorse exhibit. Seahorses - which are typically monogamous - have a unique reproductive story: the males carry the babies. A male seahorse becomes "pregnant" when a female deposits eggs in a male's pouch. The male seahorse fertilizes the eggs in his pouch and pregnancy usually lasts two to three weeks. As many as 200 baby seahorses, or fry, are born at one time.
At Mote Aquarium, the lined seahorses (Hippocampus erectus) hitch to each others tails every morning, connecting the belly and pouch together so the female can release eggs to the male's pouch. On most days there is no exchange, but still the mating dance occurs. The best part? The male and the female form the shape of a heart when they hitch together.
Mote Marine Laboratory has been a leader in marine research since it was founded in 1955. Today, we incorporate public outreach as a key part of our mission. Mote is an independent nonprofit organization and has seven centers for marine research, the public Mote Aquarium and an Education Division specializing in public programs for all ages.