I headed back over to the Manatee Viewing Center at the electric plant when my sister was visiting in February. We got there right when it opened on a weekday and it was already crowded. Everyone was here to see the hundreds of manatees floating near the dock. I first noticed a girl out there floating with them. She worked with an enviremental agency and was counting the manatees and making notes of each one’s distinct markings. There was also one on the dock counting. Can you imagine floating around with all of those manatees? It seems like a dream job.
Standing on the dock looking down, you could see lots of them floating close together. I took this one with my phone.
It was hard to single them out and get close up shots.
When we first got there we had heard there was going to be a manatee released back into the wild. We got a good spot on the dock railing and I was able to get pictures of them bringing it down to the water.
They carried that heavy manatee down to the water and carefully placed the tarp in the water and the manatee swam away. Everyone cheered as he swam out of the blue tarp. The thing I find interesting is that it was all women who carried that manatee that could have weighed from 1500 to 3000 lbs. Many of them were volunteers.
The manatee had been rehabilitated at Zoo Tampa, probably stranded from cold stun or starving (which many of them have been lately due to changes in grass beds).The zoo has a manatee hospital on site and you can see some of the resident ones there.
A few of the birds cruising by as we were waiting for the manatee release. A bald eagle was flying over by the electric plant and a tricolored heron flew right by the dock.
One of the cute statues at the viewing center.
Tons of manatees all huddled together to keep warm at the electric plant. It was a challenge to get good clear shots of them because the warm water coming out of the plant was creating foam that was floating around and the reflection of the plant on the water. The water was clear but the lagoon sits right under the plant so the big stacks on the plant were causing some reflection.
Many of them had barnacles on their back which I’ve read is harmless for them.
Some of them had very distinct boat strike markings. Manatees are very slow moving animals and if boaters are going too fast in the “no wake” or slow wake” zones, they can hit the manatees.
Manatee tail flopping.
Taken with my phone, you can see the shadows of the people on the deck.
The water in the open bay was close to 60 degrees while the water in the lagoon was 72 degrees.
It’s funny that we took 3 ferry rides while we were in Boston but have never taken the ferry across Tampa bay. It’s hard to do fun tourist things when you are working and on a schedule. When my sisters came to visit we booked the ferry from St. Pete to Tampa. It’s a little less than an hour each way. It was fun hanging out and being a tourist. As we headed to Tampa we got close to the TECO electric plant. It was so nice out that there were a lot of boats on the water.
In the middle of the bay you could see Tampa.
Passing by the ports and Davis Islands yacht basin.
We were close to the big boats at the port.
Heading into the channel. I took a ton of pictures on the trip so more to come.
When my sisters were here over Thanksgiving weekend we went out looking for manatees. The most dependable place to find them is at the Manatee Viewing Center at the Tampa electric plant on the other side of the bay. The manatees congregate here in the winter months due to the electric plant’s discharge canal where the water that cools the electric plant is sent back out into the bay warm and clean. I’ve been there before over the years when you could see hundreds of manatees near the boardwalk but this time there were none. You could see a few far out in the canal but they just looked like bumps floating in the water. We would have been crushed if we hadn’t seen the below the day before.
Another reliable place to see manatees (and much closer to my home) is the Safety Harbor fishing pier. We were out running around one afternoon and stopped by on the way home. We counted at least 6 swimming around the pier so we hung out there for a while watching them come up for air.
Linking to My Corner of the World.
One of the fun outdoor things to do when my sisters are here for Christmas is to drive over to the Tampa Electric Company to see the manatees. The electric plant pulls in cold water to cool the plant and flushes out the warm water so the manatees spend the winter in the channel next to the plant where the water is warmer.
It’s always fun seeing the manatees floating around in the channel. Several of them were floating on their backs. Some of them only stick their noses out to get air.
They have a new stingray pool where you can pet them. You can also see them out in the channel swimming by.
The mangroves along the channel are covered in these black mangrove crabs.
White pelicans were flying high over our heads.
Pretty flower in the butterfly garden.
It was a beautiful day right before Christmas but too warm. 82 degrees is too hot for the end of December. It would have been nice to have long sleeves on when we were out running around. The tourist from up north didn’t seem to mind. I’m sure they were all happy to be out of the snow. The Manatee Viewing Center at TECO is only opened from November through April. Even though the weather was warm, there were still plenty of manatees to see.
Statue of a manatee at the entrance to the Manatee Viewing Center.
A night heron cruising around the manatee area.
Coming up for air. What a nose!
This one was floating on his back.
He started floating towards the boardwalk. I was hoping he would float under us.
Just as he got to the boardwalk he turned over.
Tricolored heron flying by.
Warm water coming out of the electric plant.
The viewing center is across from the TECO (Tampa Electric Co) plant. It was not a nice day. Cloudy and muggy but it was still fun being out and seeing all of the manatees congregate around the warm water coming from the electric plant. I should have taken pictures of all of the people. This was the day after Christmas and the boardwalk was wall to wall people.
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