Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach delivered reliable electricity to the community for 16 years before the commercial operation of Big Bend Unit 4 in 1986. That year, people started seeing manatees in large numbers in the power station's discharge canal, where saltwater – taken from Tampa Bay to cool Unit 4 – flowed, clean and warm, back to the bay. When Tampa Bay reached 68 degrees or colder, the mammals would seek out this new refuge. The Manatee Viewing Center was soon born. Today, Big Bend's discharge canal is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary that provides critical protection from the cold for these unique, gentle animals.
Inside the MVC's environmental education building, colorful displays immerse you in the world of the manatee and its habitat. Others show how Big Bend Power Station generates electricity for the community in an environmentally responsible way. See some of the power station's beneficially reusable byproducts. Inspect actual manatee bones and piece together puzzles. And before feeling the blast of a hurricane in the center's simulator, find out more about hurricanes and how Tampa Electric prepares for and responds to major storms.
ButterflyOutside, stroll among award-winning butterfly gardens and Florida-friendly landscaping and see solar panels – the real-time output of which you can track inside the education building. You also can see a variety of native and coastal plant life as you stroll along the center's tidal walk. Cat
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There's more than ever to see and do at the Manatee Viewing Center during our 30th anniversary season, from Nov. 1 through April 15, 2017. That includes a new rays touch tank that will open to the public in late November.
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