Since its inception, the Florida Manatee Viewing Center has grown from a collection of observation platforms into a 50-acre facility that has attracted more than 3 million visitors. Visitors can view Florida manatees that gather in the clean, warm water discharge canal outside the Big Bend Power Station when the temperature of Tampa Bay falls below 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Florida Manatee Viewing Center’s mission is to educate the public about the Florida manatee and its habitat. The center is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary. During the center’s open season (November 1 through April 15) interactive exhibits teach visitors of all ages about the life cycle of the manatee and the challenges it faces.
“In addition to the Florida manatee observation platforms, the center features a tidal walkway that takes visitors deep into a mangrove habitat. Hundreds of varieties of birds, fish and other animals thrive here amid native coastal vegetation. The center also features an environmental education building, an expanded gift shop, the South Shore Café, webcams and more. Admission is free.