We’re crazy about Manatees!


March 27th is Manatee Appreciation Day, but we love them all year long!

A power company and manatees may seem like an odd mix. But nothing could be further from the truth! Our bond with manatees and our commitment to educating the public about the threatened species spans decades.

How do we show love to manatees? Here are our top ten ways!

  1. When we realized manatees were regular winter visitors to the warm water created by our Big Bend power plant, we built the Manatee Viewing Center (MVC) so the public could observe them.
  2. The area is now a state and federally-designated sanctuary for the gentle giants.
  3. Rehabilitated manatees are frequently released at the MVC, and to facilitate those releases we built and maintain a safe walkway into the warm water.
  4. In 2023, we expanded our tidal walk for even more manatee-spotting opportunities.
  5. The MVC includes an educational center that contains interactive exhibits and informs visitors on how to help keep manatees safe.
  6. Our Polk County power plant has a water treatment system that improves water quality, which is essential for seagrass growth – a manatee’s favorite snack!
  7. We hold an annual Run for the Manatees 5K to benefit local efforts to help manatees.
  8. Admission and parking at the MVC are always free.
  9. We provide solar-powered shuttles from our overflow parking area for guests with mobility issues, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the center and the manatees.
  10. The long-term success and reputation of the MVC drew other environmental partners to our campus – including The Florida Aquarium and its important turtle rehabilitation and coral spawning efforts.

We’re not the only ones mad about manatees: In 2023, the MVC was voted the #2 best free attraction in the country by in the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards!

Plan your visit soon! Our Manatee Viewing Center closes for the season after April 15. Until then, it's open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Easter Sunday.) You’re sure to walk away MAD about manatees yourself!