Tampa Manatee Viewing Center - Free!

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Kristen K.'s picture
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Joined: 09/01/2011
Posts: 22749
Tampa Manatee Viewing Center - Free!

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. Today, Big Bend's discharge canal is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary that provides critical protection from the cold for these unique, gentle animals.

http://www.tampaelectric.com/company/mvc/

There's a lovely welcome center there, with a small museum display about manatee, a gift shop, picnic tables, a butterfly garden, a couple of walking trails, and raised decks that extend out over the water where you can try to catch a glimpse of these lovely creatures. And - best of all it's FREE!

Tampa Power Manatee Center Tampa Power Manatee Center Tampa Power Manatee Center

The dark shadowy spots you see in the water are manatee!

Tampa Power Manatee Center Tampa Power Manatee Center Tampa Power Manatee Center Tampa Power Manatee Center

There's also a ray pool at the center where guests can pet the cow nose rays. They feel sort of slick and slimy yet not gooey. They are actually kind of sweet.

Geordon at Cownose Cove Tampa Power Manatee Center Becks & Carlos Cownose Cove

If you are really lucky, you may even see a manatee release. Though they only happen once or twice a year. This was the release of Ice Cube.

Manatee Release - Ice Cube Manatee Release - Ice Cube Manatee Release - Ice Cube Manatee Release - Ice Cube

JoAnn C's picture
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Joined: 05/20/2011
Posts: 6648

I would like to visit

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Joined: 09/12/2010
Posts: 4703

Wow, that is very cool. Next time we go to WDW I really would love to carve out a day for Tampa.