Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center Celebrates Incredible New Record

Tampa Electric’s award-winning Manatee Viewing Center has set an amazing new record: the center hosted 1,100 manatees at one time, which dwarfs the previous record of 850, set last winter.

“This season has been consistently chilly, which has allowed us to see more manatees at one time than ever before,” said Stan Kroh, manager of Land and Stewardship Programs for Tampa Electric. “This makes for an even better experience for our visitors. We’re proud to be such a coveted destination – and a showcase for Tampa Electric’s commitment to environmental stewardship.”

The manatees have gathered in the canal since the early 1970s. When the water temperature of Tampa Bay is 68 degrees or colder, the mammals gather in the clean, warm water discharge canal of Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station, sometimes by the hundreds – and this year, repeatedly over a thousand.

Each season, the 50-acre Manatee Viewing Center draws hundreds of thousands of human visitors – nearly 500,000 in 2023. Since the center opened in 1986, 7.4 million people have visited.

Guests can see the mammals up close from multiple boardwalks and vantage points. They also can meet the rays, critical animals that rely on a healthy Tampa Bay ecosystem – and even touch them gently as they glide past in the touch-tank. Visitors also can hike the nature trail and take in the vistas from the 50-foot observation tower.

Admission and parking at the Apollo Beach facility are free. And the center’s boardwalks comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act for our guests’ convenience. TripAdvisor has repeatedly awarded the center a Certificate of Excellence, and it was selected as one of the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards for best free attractions.

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.) Comfortable shoes and clothing are recommended. Please note that no pets are allowed at the center, only trained service animals.

Visit the center online at www.TampaElectric.com/MVC or call 813-228-4289 for more information.

Tampa Electric, one of Florida’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, serves about 840,000 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.