Saturday, January 16, 2016

Manatee Viewing Center, Apollo Beach, Florida

This state and federal manatee sanctuary is located on land owned by the Tampa Electric Company.
It was a cool over-cast day when we were there, so we were surprised to find the parking lot almost completely filled.  It was probably one of the better days to view the manatees.  Beyond the power station is Tampa Bay, where the water is a bit cooler at this time of the year.  In the clean warm (like about 82 degrees) water of the reservoir pictured above, is currently numerous manatees.  We could easily make out the shapes of their bodies in the cloudy water.
And we could also perceive that there was a great number of them by the many swirls in the water.
As the manatee submerges he makes a series of half-moon swirls.  After viewing the manatees from a boardwalk and observation platforms, we spent some time in the environmental education building.  Here there is plenty of information regarding the manatees, as well as about the Big Bend Power Station located near the center.  One interesting piece of information regarding manatees is that they have no natural predators.  They are harmed or killed by watercraft collisions, ingestion of marine debris, cold stress, red tide and natural causes.  Florida is considering taking them off their protection list since their numbers are starting to rise.  Pictured below is a life-size model of a manatee.
By the way, they are herbivores.  To my thinking they are just sweet gentle giants of the deep seas!
One other note here, while we were observing the manatees we noticed fish jumping out of the water.  A staff member of the center informed us that those were a type of shark which has its mouth underneath its head and feeds by turning upside down to catch the fish above them.  That was an interesting sight, as well as the manatees!

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