Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center. The weather has been unusually cold this winter in Florida, well not just Florida many parts of the country has experienced more than there fair share of cold and snow! We will get cold days during the winter but it normally doesn't last more than a couple of days then we warm back up, often above average temps. Not this year, we've been staying below average for sometime now (we're thinking about moving further south).
TECO (Tampa Electric) has a power plant that puts out warm water into an outlet. The area where this happens attract all sorts of sea life when it is cold out. When the water temperature gets below 68° the Manatees join in for the warmer water.
The Manatee Viewing Center is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., November 1 through April 15. (The center is closed Thanksgiving, at 3 p.m. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Easter.) Admission and parking is free, but you can make a donation.
You can watch the manatees come in and out of the bay. In this photo you can see where the warm water comes out. All those dots or bumps in the water are manatees.
It was crowded that day with both manatees and humans. You can also see rays, sharks, and a lot of fish. They have signs with pictures to help identify what you might see.
Here is a little closer, the manatees can stay under for around 20 minutes before needing to take another breath. They move slow and often will get hit by boats because they can't get out of the way quick enough. There were several baby manatees too. We could see the nostrils, and tails when they were moving.
They also have gardens, a small museum, a cafe, and a hurricane simulator.
It was a nicer day out than it looks. The clouds came in while we were there.
Behind one platform looking out to the bay. There is a boardwalk that goes out right across where the warm water comes out. They label all of the plant life too.
This is a Spotted Eagle Ray. The small ones are close to the shore so I could get a good picture of them.
There were larger ones that were jumping everywhere. We often could see the tips of their wings above the water. We even saw a shark jump out of the water twisting in the air before going under again. TECO has some cameras on their website that will show live underwater viewing.
The first three photos, my niece Kendra took. My camera's battery died, you think I would of checked that. Thanks Kendra!