APOLLO BEACH, Fla. - When the weather turns cold, manatees head for warm water.
On the day after Christmas, it was also a popular destination for people to watch manatees. A manager at the viewing center said they had counted more than 1,700 visitors by the middle of the afternoon, making it one of their busiest days ever.
Visitors watch the manatees gathering in the warm waters at TECO's Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach on Dec. 26, 2022.
The power station uses water from Tampa Bay for cooling and then returns the water, clean and warm, creating a refuge for manatees in cold weather.
Scott Rosenfeld brought out-of-town guests from Colombia.
"They’re new and they just got here so we’re showing them the sights," said Rosenfeld.
Manatees gather in the warm waters at TECO's Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach on Dec. 26, 2022.
TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Daily. Admission is free and the center also features a snack bar, gift shop, and nature trails.
For more information, visit TECO's Manatee Viewing Center website by clicking here.