APOLLO BEACH (FOX 13) - With cold weather comes Floridians bundled in winter clothes and rarely-used heaters are turned on. But probably the most notable sight are clusters of manatees gathering together in the warmest waters they can find.
Among those locations is Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center. Since 1986, manatees have appeared in large numbers in the power station’s discharge canal. This is where saltwater, taken from Tampa Bay to the cool unit, flow clean and warm water back into the bay.
When Tampa Bay reaches 68 degrees or less, they seek out these warmer waters and huddle together to fend off the cold. The discharge canal has since become a state and federally-designated manatee sanctuary to protect the gentle mammals from the cold.
The Manatee Viewing Center is free and open for the public to access. You can also access an environmental education building, butterfly gardens and a wildlife observation tower.