TAMPA, Fla. — A favorite manatee viewing spot is delaying its reopening this fall.
In an effort to protect visitors amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Tampa Electric says it is pushing back the reopening of its award-winning Manatee Viewing Center. It is tentatively scheduled to reopen on Jan. 6, but pandemic conditions may lead to additional delays.
“The health and safety of our visitors and our employees are our No. 1 priority,” Stan Kroh, manager of Land and Stewardship Programs for Tampa Electric, wrote in a news release. “For the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to the Manatee Viewing Center every winter, we look forward to seeing you when it’s safe to do so.”
The location has become so popular because when the water temperature in Tampa Bay is 68 degrees or below, manatees like to gather in the clean, warm water discharge canal of Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station. Visitors can often see hundreds of manatees at once.
"The manatees have gathered in the canal since the early 1970s," Tampa Electric said.
Although the viewing area will be closed, manatees will keep gathering in the federal and state-protected sanctuary. Fans of the manatees will be able to watch them using live web cams that will be operational on Nov. 1. And, Tampa Electric says students and teachers should expect to hear about "virtual field trips" in the weeks to come.
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