Sarasota Stories and Tips

Manatee watching at TECO

Big Bend Power Plant Photo, Sarasota, Florida

One of the highlights of our visit to Florida was watching auntie at work. She works for Florida Fish & Wildlife Research Institute on the manatee photo identification project. If not for this, we would have never discovered TECO Big Bend Power Station on our own. TECO stands for Tampa Electric Company. Since manatees are mammals, they tend toward warmer water. The power station puts out warm water, so the manatees are drawn there. TECO funded the Manatee Viewing Center, and it was well worth the side trip.One of the things that makes this such a neat side trip is that we really wanted to see manatees in the wild. We had already gone manatee watching earlier in the week, but at the viewing center, they've built a boardwalk through the mangrove of the estuary. With speakers broadcasting information about the plant life, and excellent markers among the plants, the boardwalk is educational in itself. Once you reach the end, though, you are over the water and have a perfect view down into the water. Since manatees only come up for air every 7-20 minutes, unless you are over the water, all you generally see are two nostrils and the tail slick after they dive. By being over the water on the boardwalk, you can look down on the water to see more of the manatees, in addition to the hundreds of other species in the water. There is also a platform in another location at the center, but the boardwalk was my favorite.The drive from the condo was about 45 minutes, then we stayed there for about 2 hours. It was a nice activity for a quiet morning. If you are looking for something inexpensive for the family, why not give it a try?

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