Improved manatee viewing center set to open

APOLLO BEACH, Fla. - An improved manatee viewing center is opening for the season in Apollo Beach.  The improvements include a walking trail almost a mile long that has educational signs.

There are also eight new solar trees to help power the education building.  Plus, there is a new garden that will showcase Florida's native plants.

The 50-acre manatee viewing center draws an estimated 200,000 visitors every season.

Manatees gather in a canal for the warm, clean water discharged by Tampa electric's big bend power station.  Visitors can see manatees from multiple boardwalks and vantage points.  Manatees have gathered in the canal to escape the cold since the early 1970s.

The center's regular hours are 10 am to 5 pm every day from November 1 through April 15, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

Both parking and admission are free.  Visit online at .

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