West Centeral

Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center

Open November 1st through April 15th, the Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing center is the perfect winter time spot to view manatees seeking warmth in the discharge waters of the Big Bend Power plant.

Manatees need warm water for their survival and when the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, cools in the winter months, manatees seek warmth in Florida’s natural springs, rivers and in the manatee protected areas of Florida’s Power Plants. The Tampa Electric Big Bend power plant is one such location where the clean warm discharge water flows out into a manatee safe haven along the shores of Tampa Bay.

A manatee is a sea mammal that has grayish brown, thick, wrinkled skin much like an elephant. It has front flippers shaped like paddles that it uses to gather aquatic plants for food at waters bottom and a flat tail that propels them through the water. A manatee is a slow moving creature weighing upwards of 800 or more pounds and they are usually about 9 to 9 1/2 feet long.

Manatees are also known as sea cows as they graze on the sea grasses and can eat over 100 pounds of sea grass each day. They glide through the water moving ever so slowly and spend most of their time just grazing and sleeping much like a cow.

From the Manatee Viewing Center boardwalk you can see dozens upon dozens of Florida’s gentle Manatees on those cool Florida winter days.

The Big Bend Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center provides more than just the opportunity to see manatees as there is an environmental educational center there as well, providing an excellent chance to learn about not only the manatee but of another Florida, odd looking favorite, the Stingray.

Also in the education center is a hurricane simulator, giving one the chance to experience first hand what hurricane force winds feel like.

For hiking enthusiast there is a 1 mile trail loop through natural Florida coastline habitat with a 50 foot observation tower providing an outstanding view across Tampa Bay. Bring a picnic lunch and make an afternoon of it, picnic tables are provided at towers base.

There is no admission or parking fee at the Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center which makes it a great value family fun way of spending an afternoon. Concessions are available and there is a gift shop on premises.

Open everyday except major holidays. Hours are 10 Am – 5PM

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