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Visitors can once again see manatees gather in the warm waters near TECO's Big Bend power plant

manatee swimming in the water
Fresh Take Florida
A manatee swims in Manatee Springs State Park in Florida on January 16, 2021.

Visitors can check out the manatees up-close starting Nov. 1. The center closed in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Starting Monday, Tampa Electric will once again welcome visitors to its Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach.

The center closed in March 2020 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic but has since undergone renovations that are expected to be complete by the end of the year.

“For the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to the Manatee Viewing Center every winter, we have missed you, and we are so glad to welcome you back,” Stan Kroh, manager of Land and Stewardship Programs for TECO, said in a news release.

Manatees are attracted to the warmer waters at TECO's Big Bend Power Station when the water temperature in Tampa Bay drops to 68 degrees or colder.

The center features a 50-foot observation tower, along with boardwalks that allow visitors to get up-close to the manatees.

The center — which has undergone renovations that will continue through the end of the year — also includes a nature trail and education building featuring displays and interactive games.

It is also partnering with organizations including the Florida Aquarium and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on the Florida Conservation and Technology Center, a 500-acre campus showcasing nature and technology. Some buildings will also open on Monday while others remain under construction, according to the release.

Admission and parking are free, and the center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through April 15 (except Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter). No pets are allowed.

For more information, visit the Manatee Center website or call 813-228-4289.

A look at the observation tower
Courtesy: TECO
The Manatee Viewing Center at Tampa Electric's Big Bend power play features a 50-foot observation tower, along with boardwalks that allow visitors to get up-close to the manatees.

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