New Mote program combines history, science
ENGLEWOOD — Charlotte County students may be using historical data to determine the future of area estuaries.
Officials are developing a new program that would use scientific archives collected from the personal laboratory of John Bass Jr., an Englewood resident, in the 1930s and ’40s, to develop marine biology curriculum.
“The problem with restoring biology to the way it was is that nobody living actually knows what it was originally like,” said Stephen Suau, board trustee of the South Venice Beach Endowment Trust. “Using this historical data, we can make educated conclusions about the current quality of our water.”
Representatives from Charlotte County Public Schools, Mote Marine Laboratories, the Sierra Club, and a variety of other local groups held a meeting at Lemon Bay High School on Thursday to develop a plan that would not only engage extracurricular student programs, but also comply with the science and research requirements mandated by the Florida Department of Education.
Not only would the new curriculum serve as a learning opportunity, but it would set meaningful community targets for the restoration of the Lemon Bay watershed.
A pilot version of the program would first be implemented at Charlotte High School, Lemon Bay High School and L.A. Ainger Middle School.
“This is an opportunity for students to not only be exposed to marine biology, but also a chance for them to learn about their heritage,” said Bob Bedford, incoming principal at LBHS. “Their ancestors could have worked in Bass’ lab, or maybe they know someone who did.”
Bass founded the Bass Biological Laboratory and Zoological Research Supply Co. in 1931, located off New Point Comfort Road on Gottfried Creek. At the time, it was the first full marine station in Florida.
Bass died in 1939, and the facility closed in 1944 after cataloging 470 “marine and terrestrial” creatures, according to the Charlotte County Historical Center. The lab also inspired what would eventually become Mote Marine Laboratory, where the Bass archives are located.
“This is a unique project directly tied to the community,” said Aly Busse, director of education at Mote Marine. “It is basically a biological history of the area.”
In addition to painting an accurate picture of the former Lemon Bay watershed, the archives also will serve to verify anecdotal data collected from residents and set biological targets for fisheries and the presence of certain flora and fauna.