Dear Future 6-Millionth Manatee Viewing Center Visitor:
You don’t know it yet, but one day soon you’ll be part of something incredible. Tampa Electric’s free Manatee Viewing Center has welcomed people from all corners of the world since 1986 and this season, from Nov. 1 through April 15, we will welcome our 6-millionth visitor.
You know – it could be you!
What led you to our gardens, our footpaths through natural Florida, our glowing interactive displays and – our dozens or even hundreds of manatees up close who take refuge in our bay when the water temperature of Tampa Bay falls below 68 degrees Fahrenheit?)
Maybe you figured it’s the perfect place to bring friends and relatives from out of town, or even in town (and you’d be right). Maybe you thought, “Shouldn’t every resident of the Tampa Bay area check out the Manatee Viewing Center?” (Right again.) Maybe you wanted to visit a unique Florida attraction with free parking and admission (how rare!) and wanted to feel bliss atop our 50-foot observation tower that gives you incredible views of the Tampa Bay area. (Right!!) Maybe you love the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team and wanted to touch the actual rays – the live aquatic mascots – as they gently glide past in our tank? (Wow, are you this right all the time?) Maybe you saw that a local attraction has earned TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence, and maybe that’s all the incentive you need?
It could be that you like knowing that a company that’s been here since 1899 and employs your neighbors wants to make this world a better place for wildlife and nature. Did you hear about the amazing things happening just beyond the paths winding through oak hammocks south of the center? At the Florida Conservation & Technology Center (FCTC), a breakthrough experiment may have just discovered how to save the world’s coral reefs. FCTC is a joint effort between TECO, the University of Florida, the Florida Aquarium (which takes care of our beloved rays) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and it helps sea turtles too. Kind of like how the Manatee Viewing Center is where so many manatees have seen their healthy rebirth in our canal that’s clean and warm, even in the dead of winter.
What makes the water so nice and warm, you ask? That would be Big Bend Power Station, right next door, where clean-burning natural gas is transforming a place that has helped the Tampa Bay area grow since 1971. The manatees discovered the clean, warm water discharge from the plant, used for cooling its turbines, and made the canal a lifesaving refuge from the cold.
Future 6-Millionth Visitor, we hope you had a great time! Like so many of our visitors, we live in the Tampa Bay area too, and nothing makes us happier than the opportunity to do positive things for the home we share with you. Thank you for reaffirming that a commitment to the community and to all its residents – human, aquatic mammal, fish, you name it – is proof there’s good in the world.
(Did we mention parking is free too? We’re ADA-compliant, and we also have a café!)
See you soon!
Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center