Coral Reef Research

Mote’s coral reef researchers are dedicated to monitoring, understanding and restoring coral reefs. Studies and fieldwork ranges from microbiology and genetics research, to the research and development of methods and technologies for reef restoration. Mote scientists also study of reef processes and the effects of natural and man-made influences on the health and conservation of coral reefs.

Mote partners with many organizations in its reef-related efforts, including the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Mote’s Coral Reef Research includes:
  • Reef Restoration Program: This program studies the science and technologies of restoring reef ecosystems. This ecosystem includes hard corals, soft corals, seagrass meadows, macroalgae, invertebrates, vertebrates and factors affecting the reef community. The program coordinates with other centers that compliment the research and work on the reef, including aquaculture, fisheries enhancement, ecology, ecotoxicology and others.
  • Marine Microbiology Program: This program studies microorganisms and their role in the marine environment.  Projects include determining healthy and threatened marine organisms, assessing baseline microbial communities associated with healthy marine systems and understanding the role of microbes in coral health and disease and the beneficial factors affecting coral reef resistance and resilience. Methods combine field assessments with microbiological and molecular techniques.
  • Reef Science and Monitoring Program: This program monitors and assesses reef processes and environmental factors that influence reef health.  Current projects include monitoring ultraviolet light penetration of reef waters and the influence of environmental factors, monitoring harmful algal blooms and other marine events and assessing their potential impacts on the reef environment and developing a community-based coral bleaching monitoring and assessment program.  The program also supports other Mote research programs and visiting scientists, providing services such as sample collections, underwater surveys, video documentation, and instrument deployment and maintenance.

Tropical Research Laboratory
Mote performs much of its coral reef research from its field station in the Florida Keys. The Tropical Research Laboratory, located on Summerland Key (mile marker 24) is available to visiting researchers as well. The Lab maintains a full-time research and marine operations staff to provide support for any field or laboratory based research project in need of assistance.

The Tropical Research Laboratory offers

  • Fully furnished accomodations
  • Dry lab
  • Outdoor wet lab
  • Classroom/conference room
>Click to learn more

The Living Reef
Mote hosts The Living Reef Exhibit at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center in Key West, Florida. This exhibit showcases coral reef research as part of an overall visitors' center that explores the unique ecology of the Florida Keys. The Eco-Discovery Center includes free admission.

>Click for more information

Protect Our Reefs
Florida has the only barrier coral reef system in the continental U.S. It's like having the Grand Canyon underwater — a natural treasure that took millions of years to create and deserves our protection.

If you're a Florida driver, you can help make research, education and conservation happen by purchasing a Protect Our Reefs license plate for your car or boat trailer. You can even purchase a Reef Plate as a gift for your favorite reefanatic.

>Click to learn more

Funds raised through sales of the Protect Our Reefs plate support a special grants program administered by Mote Marine Laboratory. These grants support Florida-based research designed to help us understand some of our most pressing reef problems, find ways to conserve and protect our reefs and to help educate the public about the reef’s importance and how they can help.

>Click here to learn more about the Protect Our Reefs Grants Program and learn about previous awards


Are you just urchin to help?
Hard corals, soft corals and the vital marine communities they support could use our help. And we could use yours. Now. So dive deep and don't hold back! Please click to donate today.

About Us

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.

Calendar of Events Aquarium > Education > Volunteers >
Thursday 24