News Release

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

More than 5 million visitors have come through the center since it opened in 1986

TAMPA, October 31, 2018

Tampa Electric’s award-winning Manatee Viewing Center opens Thursday for its 33rd season.

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 touch-tank. 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.

Some improvements this season at the Manatee Viewing Center include:

  • A new 75-kilowatt photovoltaic solar demonstration project at the overflow parking lot. The panels are mounted on a 5,000-square-foot structure that will provide shade for visitors while they wait for shuttle buses.
  • New LED lighting in the picnic area beneath the education building, so the area is now brighter and more welcoming for visitors.
  • New fence and handrails along on the Tidal Flat Walkway.
  • Several improvements in the parking lot, such as solar-powered flashing crosswalk signs, for our guests’ safety.
  • The seawall at Big Bend Power Station is being replaced, which will have better visual impact.

“The Manatee Viewing Center proves that you really can have fun while learning about the natural treasures of Florida,” said Stan Kroh, manager of Land and Stewardship Programs for Tampa Electric. “We’re proud to be the showcase for Tampa Electric’s commitment to environmental stewardship.”

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 nearly 400,000 visitors – for a total of more than 5 million. TripAdvisor, the “world’s largest travel website,” has repeatedly awarded the center a Certificate of Excellence.

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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