After a long cold spell in January I headed over to the Manatee Viewing Center at the Tampa Electric plant. The manatees hang out around the warm water coming off the electric plant that comes out in the bay. There were hundreds there the morning I visited. It was like a big bowl of potato soup.
One thing you notice is all of the different backs they have. Some have scratches from boat strikes, some have barnacles growing on their backs and some have algae growing on them. One had a back completely covered in barnacles. He must have been pretty old to have his back covered in them.
There’s something special about a manatee snout coming up for air. They pretty much look the same but a closer look and some are rounder than others and some have longer hairs or whiskers.
All of the tails look different as well. This one was covered in barnacles. Many had big scratches on them.
This one was a released manatee (from a rehab center) and has a monitor on his tail so they can track his movement.
I spent several hours that morning watching the manatees. I got there when it opened and it got busy quickly for a Monday morning in January. So many people are coming to Florida for vacation instead of leaving the country to go to the Caribbean. Tampa has been crazy crowded for months now with tourists.