.. and much more are what you will find at the TECO Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, FL in southern Hillsborough county. The center is celebrating 30 years of wildlife activism. Now I know what you are thinking, wildlife and utility companies usually don’t mix but they do here. Here is a small excerpt from their website explaining why the manatees are attracted to the power station; “Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach delivered reliable electricity to the community for 16 years before the commercial operation of Big Bend Unit 4 in 1986. That year, people started seeing manatees in large numbers in the power station’s discharge canal, where saltwater – taken from Tampa Bay to cool Unit 4 – flowed, clean and warm, back to the bay. When Tampa Bay reached 68 degrees or colder. the mammals would seek out this new refuge. The Manatee Viewing Center was soon born” Now the discharge canal is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary that provides protection from the cold for these special animals. But not only can you see dozens manatees at this gorgeous park, you can also see their award winning butterfly garden or walk along their 900 foot walkway right into the Tampa Bay estuary. This is great place to get outside and learn about our incredible natural environment that is all around us in Tampa Bay. They even have a nature walk through a gorgeous mangrove forest that leads to a 50 foot high observation tower which gives an excellent view of the surrounding bay. You can see so many types of marine life all over the grounds of the viewing center. Also at the park they have an educational center with different facts about wildlife in the area. All of this sounds expensive to experience right? But it is completely free to the public. The park is open November 1st through April 15th, and in my opinion the best days to see the manatees is when it is a little colder out (I went this weekend and saw over 40 of them). So whether you want to take the kids out to learn more about the environment or you enjoy nature yourself the Manatee Viewing center is a great place to spend the day.
Please comment below about your experiences at The Manatee Viewing center!
The Raging Dramatist