After a really cold week, I headed over to the TECO (Tampa Electric Co) plant to see the manatees that hang out there in the winter. The warm water coming off the electric plant in the lagoon keeps the manatees warm during the coldest weeks. Years ago, the plant built a manatee viewing center with a big deck that wraps around part of the lagoon. All of those dots in the water are manatees. There were hundreds of them the morning I was there in late January.
The plant says that the smoke coming out of the stack is actually clean steam. It doesn’t feel smoky when you are there and the sky was clear blue.
Part of the deck overlooking the lagoon. This was still early in the day before the big crowds get here. I got here well before they opened at 10am and waiting in line to park and was out before lunch. They can get crazy crowded and parking is a challenge when the manatees are here in large numbers. The news channels report on them when there’s been a prolonged cold spell so everyone heads over including me.
Some of the birds around the plant. White pelicans were flying high, a young night heron flew by the deck and a vulture was sitting on a platform built for an osprey nest.
Down at the very end of the lagoon, it’s roped off so boaters or kayakers cannot follow the manatees into the area. There is no swimming with the manatees here.
There’s usually some stingrays splashing around.
I took a ton of manatee pictures so more to come on those.
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.
Why would anyone go hang out next to a power plant? Because they use the water in the bay to cool the towers. The warm water comes out in the channel and keeps the manatees warm during the winter. Hundreds of manatees spend their winters in this channel. The power plant built a dock for people to stand on and watch the manatees come up for air.
One of the manatees near the dock.
For extra enjoyment, they hire sharks to jump out of the water and entertain us. (Just kidding, this was the first time we had seen this here before).
Little fiddler crabs and willets hang out on the shoreline under the dock.
Overhead, an osprey was gathering sticks for a nest.
We made our annual winter trip to the Tampa Electric Plant to see the manatees in late February. Even thought it’s been a warm winter, the water in the bay has been cold enough for the manatees to congregate in the warmer waters next to the plant. There were tons of manatees in the water but I think this time there were more people than manatees.