Article published Oct. 26, 2020.
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For the first time in more than a year, the Manatee Viewing Center plans to reopen to the public again.
Tampa Electric announced Monday that the center will welcome visitors again on Monday, Nov. 1 after closing in March 2020 due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
The viewing center, located at 6990 Dickman Road in Apollo Beach, has been a Tampa Bay staple since 1986. Each year, when the water temperature drops below 68 degrees, manatees will congregate near Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station and lounge in the warm water discharge. Those who visit the center can get an up-close look at the mammals from multiple boardwalks and vantage points.
The center now has new displays and interactive games. The education building was remodeled and renovated. Other buildings will remain under construction until the end of the year, in addition to the ongoing construction at the nearby Florida Conservation and Technology Center (FCTC). The viewing center is the anchor attraction for the 500-acre FCTC, which is a public-private partnership to showcase nature and technology, TECO said.
The viewing center has a number of protocols in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. The guest shop will only be open to a limited number of guest at one time, and visitors will be required to wear a face mask indoors.
The center’s regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day from Nov. 1 through April 15, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. (The facility closes at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve.) Comfortable shoes and clothing are recommended. No pets are allowed, only trained service animals.
Admission and parking are free.
For more information, visit the center online at www.tampaelectric.com/manatee or call 813-228-4289.