Manatee Viewing?

Thursday January 10th 2019

As predicted the temperature got down into the forties last night. It was fifty three inside my RV home when I got up this morning. The sun warmed the interior, but outside it never got much above sixty all day.

Each of the dark humps in the water are manatee. About fifty manatee are visible and a lot more are well below the surface.

One advantage of the cold overnight temperatures, is the touring opportunity it creates. The manatees don’t like cold water temperatures. To stay warm many manatees congregate at the Tampa Electric power plant in Apollo Beach on Tampa Bay. The discharge water from the power plant keeps the water temperature in the eighties.

I arrived at the Manatee Viewing Center across the channel from the power plant shortly after eleven. Quite a few other people had the same idea. There was no room in the main parking lot. By the time I’d made a complete circuit of the lot, the staff had closed the lot and opened the overflow lot about half a mile south. I was in the first hand full of cars to park in the overflow lot this morning. The walk back to the viewing center was good morning exercise.

At the viewing center I found it was low tide. The water around the viewing platform is not deep enough to support the manatees when the tide is out. All of the big critters were out in the deeper water away from the platform and nearer to the discharge outlets. Near the platform the water was full of good size tarpon. The smallest was over three feet long and some were probably over five feet.

Tarpon in the power plant discharge channel.

The viewing center also has a 900ft walkway along the side of the channel. Today there were a couple of Black Tip sharks circling around in the water looking for lunch. There were also tarpon and other good size fish visible in the water. The sharks were looking for smaller prey than the visible fish.

Overall, I was disappointed by the visit. The low tide made the manatee viewing difficult and the fish viewing didn’t make up the difference. If I hadn’t seen the manatee up close on other visits, I probably would have been content. The walk back to the car wasn’t as interesting as the anticipation made the walk to the viewing center.

Tomorrow is moving day. I’ve started to do some of the inside tasks tonight, but have the bulk of the preparations to complete tomorrow. I have less than one hundred miles to travel and will try to leave between noon and one.

Blue Heron watching the people watching the manatee.

1 thought on “Manatee Viewing?

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