See hundreds of manatees flock to this Tampa Bay power plant

APOLLO BEACH, Fla. - For over 30 years, Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center has been the ideal spot to watch hundreds of manatees in their natural habitat. 

Sea cows will swim to Apollo Beach to enjoy the warmer water being discharged from the Big Bend Power Station during the winter months. 

Tampa Bay is home to more than 600 manatees and the center works to protect and rehabilitate these marine mammals year-round. 

The Manatee Viewing Center is open November 1 through April 15. 

The center says there are 10 reasons you should attend:

1. It’s great fun: All ages can enjoy our ADA-friendly facility with its boardwalks, rays touch tank, videos, games for children, nature trails and much, much more. Let’s face it: roller coasters can be stressful. Lines at Orlando’s theme parks can be very, very long. We give you a unique place to explore natural Florida without all the hassle – and there’s a lot of fun in that.

2. Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center is FREE. That’s right: free parking. Free admission. What other big attraction offers these things?

3. Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center is a place like no other on the west coast of Florida: Marvel at the fascinating backdrop of Big Bend Power Station as it generates electricity with environmental responsibility for you and your neighbors. Water, taken from Tampa Bay, helps cool the station’s components – and it’s the return of that water, clean and warm, that provides the basis for what the center is all about: a place manatees love to visit when the water temperature of Tampa Bay is 68 degree Fahrenheit or colder.

4. Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center helps protect manatees: Manatees need the clean, warm water in the Big Bend Power Station discharge canal to stay safe, healthy, and in some cases, alive. In fact, we’ve welcomed rehabilitated manatees time and again.

5. The weather is perfect for this party! See the point above about what the Manatee Viewing Center means to manatees. Suddenly, with this moment of cool in an otherwise warm winter, your chances of seeing manatees up close in the clean, warm water discharge canal are higher!

6. Our habitat trails are great for bonding with friends and family – or just helping you find your thoughts: Wear the right shoes for walking, apply bug spray and immerse yourself in incredible, unique, natural Florida.

7. Spectacular views: When’s the last time you looked out over Florida from 50 feet up? Our wildlife observation tower – built with recycled materials on reclaimed land – is open till 4 p.m. – and you can see miles and miles of trees and water and industry. It’s something to behold.

8. What do you know about the manatee? All your questions will be answered at the Manatee Viewing Center. Our hosts and docents are happy to help educate you as you learn about this magnificent, gentle, unique creature – designated endangered until recently and related to the extinct, 30-plus-foot Stellar’s sea cow. A creature like no other.

9. How does your garden grow? If you’re looking for ideas about adding flowering plants that attract butterflies to your yard – maybe you could benefit from porterweed, milkweed or a vibrant native firebush? – we’ve got plenty for you to see. Native Florida plants not only look great in your yard; they’re good for the environment too.

10. You help efforts to save and protect natural Florida: The enthusiasm of people like you has helped lay the groundwork for the free Florida Conservation and Technology Center (FCTC), just to the south of the Manatee Viewing Center. This partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and The Florida Aquarium came about in large part because of how much people loved the Manatee Viewing Center. FCTC is growing just like we are and offers environmental education classes, kayaking excursions and new opportunities to research and protect things like Florida’s incredible coral reefs to help ensure that our magnificent natural habitat continues to thrive. You have a part in that when you show that places like the Manatee Viewing Center have value.

For more information on the Big Bend Power Station, where this takes place, click here.

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