Novelist Brings Fame and Attention to Mote Marine Laboratory
Posted by Lido Key Real Estate on
“I was under contract to collect for Mote Marine Laboratory, near Sarasota, one of the world's great research facilities.” – Doc Ford, in Randy Wayne White’s Ten Thousand Islands, 2000.
Florida has long been the home of great fiction writers. Ernest Hemingway, of course, made Key West famous. John D. MacDonald thrilled mystery fans for more than 2 decades with the adventures of his “beach-bum” private eye, Travis McGee. Mystery writer Randy Wayne White has lived in Florida since 1972; 4 years after MacDonald’s death, lovers of Florida fiction enjoyed his first “Doc Ford” mystery, Sanibel Flats. In the 23 years since, White has written another 19 Doc Ford stories, and his fans eagerly await Ford’s next adventure. What distinguishes White from other Florida writers is that he spent 13 years as a fishing guide in Florida waters, and he’s actively involved with marine biology.
White has worked extensively with Mote Marine Laboratory – genuinely one of the world’s great marine science research facilities – based on the northern tip of Lido Key. One project involved catching tarpon to be tagged with transmitters, allowing Mote scientists to track their movements and to better understand their habits and reactions. White was actually involved with catching the tarpon, and his fictional hero, Ford, is part of the same project in the novel Tampa Burn (2004).
But White’s biggest contribution to Mote Marine Laboratory is that he has made the facility famous around the world through his novels. Unlike Travis McGee, Doc Ford is no beach bum-private eye. The Ford character is actually a crime-fighting marine biologist, and Mote Marine Laboratory is mentioned in almost every one of the 20 Doc Ford novels. It’s a key setting in Ten Thousand Islands, which White published in the year 2000. White has been recognized with several literary awards; he’s won both the Conch Republic Prize for Literature and the John D. MacDonald Award for Literary Excellence.
As important as White’s contribution has been, he’s not the only purveyor of fiction to include the real-life Mote Marine Laboratory in a popular story. The A&E network’s series The Glades has featured Mote Marine, and actors on the show have portrayed Mote researchers. Mote Marine Laboratory was also seen in the film Two Weeks Notice starring Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock.
Mote Marine Laboratory is located at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway on Lido Key, and the adjacent Mote Aquarium is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 365 days a year.