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Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center opens Wednesday, Nov. 1

The rays touch-tank is back, along with improvements to the 900-foot tidal walk

TAMPA, October 30, 2017

Tampa Electric’s award-winning Manatee Viewing Center opens Wednesday for its 31st season.

Last season’s addition, a stingray touch-tank in partnership with The Florida Aquarium, is back this year providing a unique hands-on experience for children and adults. As always, admission and parking at the Apollo Beach facility are free. And the Manatee Viewing Center’s boardwalks are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act for our guests’ convenience.

Other not-to-miss highlights this season at the Manatee Viewing Center include:

  • An expanded deck outside the gift shop, giving visitors a new place to gather.
  • A new-and-improved Tidal Flat Walkway. The 900-foot walkway has been raised more than three feet to give visitors a higher vantage point for viewing marine life.
  • The 1.4-mile trail that loops to a 50-foot-high observation tower with spectacular views of Tampa Bay.
  • And, of course, visitors can enjoy meeting the stingrays, critical animals that rely on a healthy Tampa Bay ecosystem – and even touch them gently as they glide past in the water.

“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 more than 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 750,000 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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