If you come all the way to area just to see Mote, or if you expect something groundbreaking an wonderful, you will be disappointed. It desperately needs to be updated and remodeled, the staff is largely older folks (many of whom seem unhappy and poorly informed), and many of the exhibits seem to have survived unchanged since the 1970s.
However, if you happen to be in the Sarasota/Longboat Key/Anna Maria Island area and you need a non-beach activity to keep you or your kids occupied for a couple of hours, Mote's not a bad bet. We went last week during our stay on Anna Maria on a cloudy day and our daughter had a good time. She's only 5, so she's not as particular as an older kid might be. The main indoor displays are nice, especially the jellyfish and the touch pools. The Manatees are nice. The shark display is sad and embarrassing, and the squid display is just disappointing. We sat through the 12-minute shark movie, and while our daughter was engaged we couldn't stop laughing at the 1960s technology.
Mote is a fantastic institution that does a lot more than just run the aquarium, and it's too bad that the aquarium is such a poor ambassador for the institute. It's also too bad that the aquarium does next to nothing to help you understand the larger role that Mote plays in the scientific community. I'd much rather sit through a good explanation of Mote's scientific work than look at that shark display again.