My son and I recently visited the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach. We both
love nature and seeing manatees up close is a real treat. Manatees like warm water,
so when the gulf temperature drops below 68 degrees they come to seek a warm place
to wait out the cold. They survive by taking advantage of Tampa Electric's warm water
discharge canal next to the plant.
From the parking lot we took a few stairs (a ramp available too) to the boardwalk-like elevated viewing platform. Rounded manatee bodies filled the little bay like so many potatoes simmering in a pot. A tail flipper occasionally slapped the water as one of them made a shallow dive. Every few minutes one of them raised its snout for air. Mothers with babies half their size floated gently right under the viewing platform. On the day we went, fish that looked like small sharks were leaping out of the water from time to time. It is best to view the manatees at low tide, otherwise they may remain too deep to get a good look at them. Another interesting part of the center is the Tidal Walk. This extends out into the bay crossing a shoreline usually hidden in the mangrove thicket. Signs along the way identify plants and habitat. We saw pelicans, cormorants, and a solitary sandpiper foraging along the shore.
6990 Dickman Road, Apollo Beach, Florida
Written by: Lucy Noe