Manatee Viewing Center open in Apollo Beach - WFLA News Channel 8

Manatee Viewing Center open in Apollo Beach

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APOLLO BEACH, FL (WFLA) - Bob Rast calls manatees his "passion." He can spout off facts about the marine mammal for minutes. Rast has volunteered at the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach for 14 years. The MVC just opened for the season Nov. 1.

"It's kind of cloudy today," Rast said. "When the weather is good you'll see so many manatees they look like stepping stones in the water."

Thursday wasn't a good day for sea cow spotting. According to Rast, the best time to see manatees is when the temperature drops. The mammals swim from the cooler waters to the warm water by the electric plant.

Riverview resident Mike Morandi showed up to take pictures. He didn't have much luck.

"The water looks dark to me," Morandi said. "They're out there and they're trying to come in. It's tough to see but they're out there."

Last year the viewing center got a makeover. The parking lot, which used to be leftover shells, is now paved. New solar panels now produce enough electricity to power the entire educational facility at the center. There's also a new landscaping exhibit. Rast says there's still only one star of the show.

"Manatees are such a gentle giant," Rast said. "Some people say they're so ugly they're beautiful."

The center is open Nov. 1 until April 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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