The club heard from local leadership and the political and Gulf level.
Members of the Republican Club of Longboat Key met Jan. 11 and discussed the importance of organizing in an election year and learned about the science performed at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
About 55 members came to the meeting, including several new members. Jack Brill from the Sarasota Republican Party distributed sample ballots for the March 8 election and stressed the importance of voting. He said clubs need to start organizing for the midterms and volunteering locally.
Sarasota County voters in March will decide on two referendums: the elimination or retention of single-member districts for the County Commission and renewal of Sarasota County School's optional 1 mill property tax. Voters will cast ballots twice more in 2022, primaries in August and the general election in November. Races include a U.S. Senate seat, Congressional seats and a range of statewide races, including governor. Closer to home, County Commission races and School Board races will be on the ballot.
“This is the year clubs need to be active,” Brill said. “It’s game time.”
The club also heard from Lt. Col. Andrew Lourake, the first above-the-knee amputee to return to full flight status in the U.S. Air Force. He now works with Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, which works to give wounded combat veterans opportunities to overcome physical, mental and personal challenges through sailing, snorkeling and mountaineering. CWVC works with Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium on coral restoration projects. Volunteer divers plant coral polyps that bring dead reefs back to life.
“Mote is the first to close the life cycle of coral and be able to bring coral into the labs, spawn them in the labs and identify the genetically resilient strains against what killed that coral and replant those corals back out there,” Mote CEO and President Michael Crosby said. “They grow 40 to 50 times as fast and they’re genetically resilient to what killed them in the first place.”
Crosby was the main speaker for the evening and focused on three areas of research in which Mote is leading the way.
Crosby said scientists at the aquarium can bring coral back from the dead and regrow dead coral that’s hundreds of years old. Because the coral is genetically resilient to what killed it, Crosby said, Mote's methods have seen about a 95% success rate.
Next, Crosby spoke about how Mote is leading the way in the “blue revolution,” which is a movement that seeks to make seafood more sustainable. As seafood consumption has increased in recent years, the world has passed the ocean's ability to replace lost stocks.
“To be able to get that amount of protein to human beings, we’re crashing ocean populations all over the globe,” Crosby said. “So what's the answer? Sustainable aquaculture.”
Most of the seafood in the United States is not produced in the country; China is the number one producer. Crosby envisions a future where sustainable aquaculture is a new industry in Florida.
“We are importing seafood from aquaculture that is not environmentally sustainable, and yet we have the technology right here in the United States,” Crosby said. “This is contributing to our national trade deficit and it is harming the oceans, yet we have the technology. … That’s a big push, that’s what it’s all about at Mote Aquaculture Research Park.”
Finally, Crosby ended on a hot-button topic for the area: red tide. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon, but human activity has made it worse. Mote is part of a six-year, $3 million a year statewide project called the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative. The goal is to decrease the harm done by red tide. So far, at the end of the second year, research is going well.
“We are developing some technologies that are really, really promising,” Crosby said.
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