As the weather starts to turn cooler, Florida Manatees start to congregate at Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station. This is due to the warm water the power station discharges after cooling their power generation station. Since Manatees are warm-blooded mammals, they enjoy the warmer waters found there. This gives people a unique opportunity to view large numbers of manatees consistently in one location over the winter months. Tampa Electric has even built a large wooden boardwalk-type walkway over the water to allow visitors to view the manatees at their Manatee Viewing Center, adjacent to the power station.
While somewhat early in the season, we stopped by the viewing center on a cool morning to see if any manatee were there. We found a decent number of these aquatic animals floating around and enjoying themselves. The kids enjoyed seeing them in the water as well as learning about them from Viewing Center staff that gave our kids coloring pages and explained where in the manatee body the bones on a display cart could be found. While we only spent about an hour at the viewing center, we plan to go back a little later in the season to see how many manatees are there once the water really starts to cool down for the winter.