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A Sneak Peek at the new Mote Science Education Aquarium

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Mote Science Education Aquarium

One of the most incredible new projects on our radar is the new Mote Science Education Aquarium (Mote SEA) currently in development and planned for Sarasota, FL.

The new 110,000 square foot marine science education aquarium will be built on 12 acres on the northern end of Nathan Benderson Park. The construction of the facility is expected to have a $280 million economic impact on the city of Sarasota.

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About Mote Marine & The New SEA Facility

Mote Marine Laboratory is a non-profit marine research organization centered on City Island in Sarasota, Florida, with other sites in eastern Sarasota County, Boca Grande, and the Florida Keys. Originally founded in Placida, Florida, the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory was established in 1955 by Eugenie Clark. It was recognized as such until 1967 when it was renamed in honor of major benefactor, William R. Mote and the contributions he and his family had made.

The laboratory’s mission is to enhance marine science and education while also promoting marine conservation and sustainability. For the general public, study is interpreted through a public aquarium and related education programs.

Mote SEA Breaks Ground

The new Mote SEA facility which broke ground in October of 2020 and is projected to open in early 2023, is part of a $130 million dollar facility planned for the region. More than 65,000 children from Sarasota and Manatee counties will benefit from Mote SEA’s interactive state-of-the-art STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teaching labs and free educational programming. Mote SEA will be used to support their expanding scientific and technology programs, and expanded research facilities.

We were excited to learn more about the project and interviewed Michael Moore and Dan Bebak at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium along with Vito Mariano, President of Basecrete Technologies who has been consulting on the waterproofing aspects of the project.

Science Education Aquarium a Boon For Sarasota Community

“We are first and foremost a Marine research science laboratory,” said Dan Bebak, V.P. and Director of Aquarium at Mote Marine Laboratory, “the interest in the aquarium concept grew out of William R. Mote desire and some scientists at the time, to talk to the public about the research that the laboratory was doing and put a public face on our research.”

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The aquarium portion of the currently facility displays more than 100 marine species including sharks, manatees, sea turtles, seahorses, rays, skates, and invertebrates including cuttlefish, octopuses, sea jellies, anemones, and corals. Other resident animals, such as sea turtles and river otters which are cared for by the trained staff and volunteers of the facility.

Emphasis on STEM and Workforce Development

“The impetetus for the new Science Education Aquarium is tied to the growth of research. In our City Island campus here, we are literally out of room. The concept was to build a new state of the art facility focusing not only on the public exhibits, but on STEM education. We’re going to have three interactive classes there hosting about 70,000 students every year to make use of those research laboratories totally free of charge,” said Bebak.

The three new STEM labs will be focused on Marine Ecology and Ocean Technology, while the third will deal with Bio Medical research. With resources and laboratories dedicated to workforce development, the excitement of expansion is focused on the educational benefits Mote SEA will offer the Sarasota community.

A large reason for the growth of the facility has to do with what is happening in our oceans and Mote’s researchers are right on the front lines. Expanding their conservation research is critical to their mission. “I think most of our exciting work we do is in coral reef restoration in the Florida keys, Turkey and the Carribean,” said Bebak, “we’re working with scientists around the world to grow these more resilient genotypes of corral and repopulate some of the damaged reef tracts that have been impacted by ocean acidification, temperature changes, and different diseases.”

Mote is Building a World Class Research Facility

The challenges of funding a world-class facility of this nature are considerable. In describing the process, Michael Moore, Special Advisor for Mote Marine elaborated. “$130 million by some standards is not a huge campaign but in our case, it’s the largest in the region that’s ever been done in.”

“The board and our CEO Dr. Michael Crosby have said we need to have all the commitments and pledges in place before we can actually start vertical construction of the building. So because a lot of people like to see something underway before they’ll step in and participate, it’s presented some challenges in that regard,” said Moore.

Getting Mote SEA Construction Started

“The 12 acres we’re actually building on is in a lake. We have to drain it, demuck it, put in the dirt and pack it down before we can even begin construction,” explained Moore, “for the funding, since it is the largest project in the region, we’re looking at three different sources, our philanthropic community, two counties are providing funding and the state, and corporate sponsorship. This building with 700,000 visitors a year, there’s a lot of opportunity there. We’re well on our way with over $90 million committed already.”

The team contracted to design the facility include TDS Design in Atlanta, who were the lead architects for the Georgia Aquarium, AOA Studios out of Orlando, FL. Two well known contracting firms Willis Smith Construction and Whiting-Turner will be working in partnership handling construction of the project.

On this specific type of facility, there are many different environmental concerns when using the different types of enclosures that will have to support marine life. “One of the challenges we’ve had here are is that this is a three store building. Some of our larger exhibits like the manatees and river otters are on the top floor. The Gulf of Mexico exhibit stands two floors,” said Bebak, “building a big pool on the roof of a hotel is a perfect example of kind of a similar thing. We’ve had to engineer it all so that it all supports itself.”

The Team Behind The Mote SEA Project

“Our lead engineers are EXP,” said Bebak, “the life support design and filtration, pumps motors, bio filters and ozone is being engineered by PCA Global out of San Diego. There’s a lot of materials involved but working with Basecrete’s been great, they’ve actually donated materials we’ve used here for our river otters and gator habitats and it’s been a great product. All of the products have to be resilient, we’re in there scrubbing down walls, animals are in there rubbing against it. Of course they have to be non-toxic because we have animals living in there.”

Waterproofing, Weatherproofing & Sustainability

Seeing as that aquatic enclosures are going to be suspended on the second and third floor of the structure, we asked Vito Mariano who has worked on numerous projects for Tampa, Miami, and Toronto Zoos what some of the technical challenges were with waterproofing these type of vessels.

“Deflection is probably the biggest issue we deal with. Depending on how much movement, how much support the beams and posts that are supporting it. We have pools that are 30, 40 stories up and sometimes they are quite challenging,” said Mariano, “if it goes beyond a certain percentage of movement we may have some difficulty. We want to make sure they are structurally sound enough before we do any waterproofing.”

“Waterproofing for marine life is a different challenge, we want to make sure that these animals are well taken care of and there’s no VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) or toxicities. Any elements that are harmful to marine life, we want to make sure that’s encapsulated,” said Mariano.

“Waterproofing and weather proofing is extremely important,” said Bebak, “there’s a lot of propriety additives in concrete mixes so we want to avoid water intrusion, cracking.”

Sustainability of the eco-environment is a big concern to Bebak, “We’re about 10 miles from the coast and so all of our seawater needs recirculating systems. In order to recapture as much of that saltwater and fresh water as we can we’re going to be using backwash recovery systems,” explained Bebak, “we’ll actually refilter and clean up that backwash, remove as much concentrated organic material as we can before that goes to waste. We’re also going to have heat exchangers that capture the thermal mass because we have to heat and cool water. All of these tanks require different temperatures all the way from our manatees to our penguins. To save on electricity we recapture the heat and cold from the backwash water to save as much as we can on utility costs.”

The design concept for the life support system and the plans to deploy green technologies to lower the carbon footprint of the facility are in line with the organizations goals for sustainability. This coupled with the exciting design plans for the Mote Sea facility make this intriguing project, one we’re following closely.

Learn more about this incredible project, and the Mote Marine mission on the Pool Magazin Podcast.

5/5 - (20 votes)

Editor in Chief of Pool Magazine - Joe Trusty is also CEO of PoolMarketing.com, the leading digital agency for the pool industry. An internet entrepreneur, software developer, author, and marketing professional with a long history in the pool industry. Joe oversees the writing and creative staff at Pool Magazine. To contact Joe Trusty email info@poolmagazine.com or call (916) 467-9118 during normal business hours. For submissions, please send your message to submissions@poolmagazine.com

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Pool News

Chlorine Prices Continue To Go Up This Summer

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Chlorine Prices Continue To Soar

With no relief in sight, chlorine prices continue to soar as costs keep rising for pool chemicals this summer. Since almost the very start of the pandemic prices for pool sanitizers like chlorine have nearly doubled and at the retail level consumers are paying nearly triple what they were before the end of 2020.

What Caused Prices To Go Up?

Soaring costs for fuel, rising inflation, and a litany of other factors such as logistical delays and workforce shortages have plagued the pool industry. A factory closure due to a fire at one of the nation’s largest producers of dried chlorine products certainly did not help matters.

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BioLab, the manufacturer in question is spending $170 million dollars on rebuilding their plant after it burnt to the ground during Hurricane Laura. While many pool professionals were hoping that the plant would be back online in time to impact and offset summer chlorine prices, a series of delays related to a second hurricane has pushed back operations. Consequently, any impact BioLab’s production would have had on this year’s chlorine supply is now a moot point.

Will Chlorine Prices Go Back Down?

Industry pundits and analysts know what caused prices to spike. That’s never been the issue. The question that remains to be answered: When will chlorine prices go back down? The answer is, they won’t.

While chlorine prices are expected to stabilize somewhat within the next year, rising costs, inflation, and an increase in consumer demand will keep chlorine prices high well into next summer and the immediate, foreseeable future.

Exactly how much have Chlorine prices increased?

Chlorine like many other chemicals is a commodity. As such the prices for chemical commodities are clearly viewable from various credible sources. The price index for Alkalies and Chlorine, Including Natural Sodium Carbonate and Sulfate, reached a record high of 483.79600 in May of 2022. As we progress later into the summer and prices are predicted to continue to rise and blow away analysts’ forecasts.

Price of Chlorine - source: tradingeconomics.com
Price of Chlorine – source: tradingeconomics.com

In response to a changing market, many pool professionals began to switch to liquid chlorine and alternative sanitizing methods to help offset operational costs. Consequently, these materials have also increased in price over the last year and a half. Exactly how high have prices gone?

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Financing options are available for purchasing chlorine tablets.
Financing options are available for purchasing tablets.

Well let’s put it this way, you can finance a 50-pound $449 bucket of Bromine tablets for just $41 bucks a month if you buy it from Leslie’s, on Amazon you’ll pay $498 if you can find them in stock. That we’re at a state that necessitates the need for consumers to be able to finance a bucket of tablets, is a pause for reflection on exactly how high prices have gone up.

The price of a 50 pound bucket of chlorine tablets is now almost $500 on Amazon.
The price of a 50 pound bucket of tablets is now almost $500 on Amazon.

5/5 - (14 votes)

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3D Printed Pools Ready To Hit The Market

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3D Printed Pool by San Juan Fiberglass Pools

San Juan Pools is ready to usher in the era of 3D-printed pools. The fiberglass pool manufacturer were on Fox & Friends yesterday demonstrating the first-ever 3D printed fiberglass swimming pool.

The advent of 3D printing promises to lower the cost for building homes, and it would seem that the same holds true for swimming pools. With dealerships all over the United States, San Juan Pools has been operating its family-owned business for almost 65 years. As one of the largest manufacturers of fiberglass pools, the 3D printed pool is a first for the pioneers.

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World’s First 3D Printed Fiberglass Pool Hits The Streets of Manhattan

San Juan shipped their Baja Beach model up to midtown Manhattan where Bedell explained the technology behind 3d printing a swimming pool and allowed hosts to sample the product, so to speak.

The 3D printed pool features a hot tub for 8 people and a sloped beach entry that can be installed in or above ground. Features you’d find in a custom inground swimming pool Bedell explained the exciting aspect of 3D printing a swimming pool means “they can make it any shape they want.”

The Future of 3D Printed Swimming Pools

Home improvement expert Skip Bedell, explained that San Juans new 3d printed pools can be produced in a matter of days and are made from completely recyclable materials.

“So, when they’re done, they can put it through a plastic shredder and reuse those plastic pellets,” Bedell said, referencing the product’s end life and consumer disposal.

Bedell explained that San Juan Pools shift towards adapting massive printing technology stemmed from its partnership with an advanced manufacturing company called Alpha Additive. Bedell explained that no other pool manufacturer currently has the technology or machinery to create these pool products, which currently leaves them as the sole 3D printer of fiberglass pools in the industry.

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Coach Saves Swimmer Who Fainted At World Championships

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Coach Andrea Fuentes Saves Swimmer Anita Alvarez Who Fainted While Competing at World Championships in Budapest

‘Hero coach saves swimmer’ was the headline splashed all over the news today. After losing consciousness during the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary, American swimmer Anita Alvarez was rescued from drowning at the bottom of the pool by coach Andrea Fuentes.

On Wednesday, Fuentes dived into the water after seeing the 25-year-old artistic swimmer plummet to the bottom of the women’s solo free event.

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Coach Indicated Life Guards Slow To React

Andrea Fuentes, coach to two-time Olympian Anita Alvarez, told Spanish newspaper Marca that she dived in to haul the 25-year-old to the surface because no one else lifted a finger to do so.

“I jumped into the water because I saw that no one, no lifeguard, was diving in,” she said.

The dramatic rescue unfolded when Ms Alvarez was participating in the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest on Wednesday night.

This wasn’t the first time that Fuentes has come to Alvarez’s rescue. During an Olympic qualification event last year, a similar incident occurred where Fuentes leaped into action to her and swim partner, Lindi Schroeder to safety.

Who is Andrea Fuentes?

Fuentes is a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming and the most decorated swimmer on the Spanish National Team. The world champion rescued Alvarez from the bottom of the pool and swam her to the surface before swimming her to safety at the edge of the pool.

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“I got a little scared because she wasn’t breathing, but now she’s fine,” Fuentes told news sources.

Swimmers often hold their breath for long periods of time as a way to develop their lung capacity but never defy medical advice, according to their instructor, who explained that the occurrence was not out of the ordinary in the sport of swimming.

Fuentes became concerned when she observed Alvarez’s feet appeared paler than usual toward the end of her routine on Wednesday. While Alvarez was descending instead of ascending to take a breath, she dove in.

Coach saves swimmer after fainting in pool
Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

Swim Coach Saves Swimmer, Quick To Respond To Distress

Fuentes remarked, “I was already paying attention, and then I saw her sliding down. In the end, “I didn’t even ask myself if I should go or not, I just thought that I was not going to wait.”
“I know Anita very well and I know the sport very well.” Fuentes replied when asked if she thought lifeguards were too slow to respond to the incident.

Coach Saves Swimmer – Says ‘I Did My Job’

Fuentes concluded by saying, “They did their job, I did mine,” The sport’s governing body, the International Swimming Federation (FINA), did not react to calls for comment on reaction speed of the rescue.

After what it called a “medical emergency.” FINA said in a statement on Thursday that it has been in contact with Alvarez, her teammates, and her medical personnel. In the words of the release, “Ms. Alvarez was immediately treated by a medical team in the venue and is in good health,”

Oli Scarff, the underwater photographer who used a remote robotic camera to capture the breathtaking images of the rescue, told reporters that he heard noise as he was looking at his computer toward the end of Alvarez’s routine. He observed the swimmer at the bottom of the pool on the screen of the robotic camera.

Hero swim coach Andrea Fuentes saves unconsious swimmer Anita Alvarez after she fainted in swim competition in Budapest
Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

According to the photographer, it was “It was kind of a shocking thing to see because as soon as I looked back down at the robotic camera I had this kind of clear view of the scene while everyone in the arena was watching it through the surface of the water,” as he put it.

At first Scarff was capturing “beautiful” images of a “amazing” athlete in action, only to find himself “in a heartbeat” photographing “a near-death situation.” “Actually, I was rather rattled up by the whole thing.

Swimmer Says She’s Ready To Compete on Friday

“The doctors checked all vitals and everything is normal: heart rate, oxygen, sugar levels, blood pressure, etc. All is fine,” Fuentes stated. Other high-endurance sports, such as running and cycling, also experience this.” Whether it’s a marathon, a bike race, or a cross-country race, we’ve all seen photographs of racers who didn’t make it to the finish line being helped by others. Swimming is just like any other activity in that we push ourselves to our limits and sometimes find them.”

5/5 - (1 vote)

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