Stroll along the TECO Manatee Viewing Center, which is near the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach, as it reopened on November 1 for its 34th season, and you can visit until April 15, 2020.
Besides getting the opportunity to spot many manatees, it also offers a wide array of activities for all ages, such as the 900 ft. tidal walk, the 50 ft. wildlife observation tower, the Rays touch tank that is in partnership with the Florida Aquarium and more.
TECO’s Senior Environmental Technician Jamie Woodlee said, “I have been a permanent part of this facility for about 20 years and feel excited to see how much it has grown.”
The Tampa Electric Company has owned and operated the center since its establishment in 1986. On average, it draws more than 300,000 people during its season. People from all over the globe, such as Ireland, Japan, New Zealand and other places, travel to check out the manatees. The average daily visitor attendance for the center is 2,400. Free parking and admission are provided as well at the center.
When the waters reach 68 degrees or colder, visitors can see multiple manatees. At the on-site environmental education building, visitors can learn about manatees, Tampa Electric Company’s power plant, stewardship programs and more. It also includes puzzle tables and manatee bones to touch, just to name a few. While visiting, check out the butterfly garden, gift shop and concession.
There are about 35 volunteers who work at the center. The volunteers are educators who provide information about the Florida manatees, birds and more.
“All in all, this is a great fun place to learn about manatees and more with friends and family,” Woodlee said.
The Manatee Viewing Center is located at 6990 Dickman Rd. in Apollo Beach and is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It closes on Christmas Eve at 3 p.m. and is closed on Christmas and Easter. For more information, call 228-4289.