APOLLO BEACH, Fla. (WFLA)- TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach has opened back up for visitors wanting to catch a glimpse of the gentle giants.
When the weather starts getting colder, hundreds of local manatees are known to seek out the warm waters near the Big Bend Power Station.
“In creating power, we discharge warm water and manatees have to be in warm water,” TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center Administrator Jamie Woodley said. “They can’t exist in anything below 68 degrees for any length of time, they become cold, stressed and very sick.”
According to Woodley, the center opened up in December 1986.
“Even after all this long, when we go out and we see them and I see the excitement on people’s faces that have never seen a manatee up close,” she said.
Visitors can explore the center’s boardwalks, butterfly garden, the Rays Touch Tank, indoor exhibits and gift shop.
A new observation area will be open in 2 weeks that will give manatee-lovers a closer look into the canal.
“If you don’t have those kind of experiences, then you don’t think twice about it. The more we can expose people to it, the more you can expose people to Florida nature, people are going to want to preserve it,” she said.
If you would like to visit TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center, it is located at 6990 Dickman Road in Apollo Beach and admission is free.
The center is open every day through April 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Easter.