Saturday January 28th 2017
The weather has turned from above normal temperatures to below average temperatures. Today’s high was in the mid 50s. It was a cloudy day with a breeze off the water that made feel even cooler.
The good news is it brought the manatees into the power plant cooling canal at the Manatee Viewing Center. It’s really an interesting symbiotic relationship. The cold weather means more power needs to be produced to heat peoples homes. The increased heat from the power plant puts more heat into the cooling canal warming a bigger area of water. The manatees seeking water over 70 degrees come into the cooling canal in greater numbers. The water temperature in the cooling canal today was over 80 degrees but air temperature was in the 50s. Earlier in the month when the air temperature was near 80, the water temperature was only in the 70s. Today was the first day I saw three out of four smoke stacks putting out smoke. Earlier in the month there were only one or two stacks with smoke coming out.
There were many manatees out in the canal and several up close to the viewing platforms. The scar patterns on some were clearly visible. Others had barnacles on their backs. Many of the manatees hover just below the surface with their backs above the surface others swim along breaking the surface periodically with their noses to breath. I think most of the manatees are swimmers, not hoverers. Since I counted over 30 hoverers, it is a good bet there were close to a hundred manatees in the canal. The informational monolog played on the PA system at the viewing center says they have seen over 300 during extended periods of cold weather.
With the manatee up close to the viewing platform, the fish that are normally visible seem to be elsewhere. There still in the canal because an occasional fish will jump out of the water as you watch for the manatee to surface. Considering that all of the action of the birds and even the spectators above the surface was slowed down because of the cold, the action in the water was fun to watch. I saw one bird and all of the visitors were bundled up and moving slowly. Other than the folks at the viewing platform rails watching the manatee, the longest line was at the concession stand for coffee and hot chocolate.