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Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center opens Tuesday for 30th anniversary season

TAMPA, October 28, 2016

Tampa Electric’s award-winning Manatee Viewing Center opens Tuesday for its 30th anniversary season.

This season, the center will focus on a new stingray touch-tank that will provide a unique hands-on experience for children and adults. It will complement the existing 1.4-mile trail that loops to a 50-foot-high observation tower with spectacular views of Tampa Bay. As always, admission and parking at the Apollo Beach facility are free.

  • The 10,000-gallon touch tank will open in several weeks. It will be the winter home of the rays that live at Tropicana Field during baseball season. The tank will be staffed and maintained by The Florida Aquarium. To showcase the new visitors, the Gift Shop will now include sting ray merchandise.
  • The pavilion has been expanded, and it will cover the touch tank.
  • The boardwalks have been widened and improved and are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act for our guests’ convenience.
  • The overflow parking lot has improved traffic flow, thanks to a new entrance gate.
  • Internal improvements include a new kitchen for the concession stand and expanded restroom facilities.

“We’re proud to be the showcase for Tampa Electric’s commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Stan Kroh, manager of Land and Stewardship Programs for Tampa Electric. “The nearly 5 million visitors we have welcomed since 1986 prove that you really can have fun while learning about the natural treasures of Florida.”

When the water temperature of Tampa Bay is 68 degrees or colder, manatees gather in the clean, warm water discharge canal of Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station, sometimes by the hundreds. Manatee Viewing Center visitors can see the mammals up close from multiple boardwalks and vantage points.

The manatees have gathered in the canal to find refuge from the cold since the early 1970s. Each season, the 50-acre Manatee Viewing Center draws an average of 275,000 visitors – including about 10,000 schoolchildren.

The Manatee Viewing 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.) The facility is accessible to people with disabilities, and parking and admission are free. Visit the center online at or call 813-228-4289 for more information.

Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, serves about 730,000 customers in West Central Florida. Tampa Electric is a subsidiary of Emera Inc., a geographically diverse energy and services company headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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