TAMPA, Fla. — Back for the season, you can finally see Florida's favorite aquatic mammals at Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center.
The Manatee Viewing Center reopens on November 1 and will stay open until April 15. TECO says when Tampa Bay's waters start to cool at about 68 degrees or lower, manatees will gather in the Big Bend Power Station's water discharge canal, sometimes by the hundreds.
“We’re proud to be the showcase for Tampa Electric’s commitment to environmental stewardship,” Stan Kroh, manager of Land and Stewardship Programs for Tampa Electric, said. “The Manatee Viewing Center proves that you can have fun while learning about the natural treasures of Florida.”
At the viewing center, visitors will have the opportunity to walk along boardwalks and see manatees from multiple vantage points. According to TECO, manatees have gathered in the canal to find refuge from the cold since the early 1970s.
The company adds that the Big Bend Power Station circulates water from Tampa Bay for cooling, then sends the water flowing clean and warm back into the bay.
While you're at the viewing center, you can also meet and interact with stingrays in the touch tank. There's also a nature trail that leads to a 50-foot observation tower.
Admission and parking at the facility in Apollo Beach are free. The viewing center will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
If you can't make it out to the center, don't worry! TECO offers manatee viewing cameras that you can watch year-round.