Two children from the Victory Martial Arts Academy in Apollo Beach, Florida enjoy a wonderful experience as they observe a few cownose rays at the new Stingray Touch exhibit found at the Manatee Viewing Center. Photo Courtesy (Lois Kindle)
Greetings and Happy Holidays to you! Ok – here’s a question I bet you can’t answer. What exactly do manatees and stingrays have in common? Answer – it’s Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center, located in Apollo Beach, Florida! You see in addition to seeing us manatees swim in the balmy warm water discharge of Tampa Electric, there is now a brand new Stingray Touch Tank at the Center!
The new tank holds 10,000-gallons and it occupies 600-square feet. You’ll be fascinated to see 13 cownose stingrays and 2 southern stingrays swimming there. This “will now be the winter home for the stingrays, which normally reside in the Tampa Bay Rays’ outfield touch exhibit at Tropicana Field in the summer.” Mr. Rob Lamke, Florida Aquarium’s promotions manager explained, “About 50 people at a time ar permitted to gather around the tank at any one time. Once each hour, the rays, which are fish, are given a 10 – or 15-minutes break. It’s a protocol established by The Florida Aquarium to keep them at their best. The space is large enough for them to move around freely.”
There will always be two aquarium reps available during the Manatee Viewing Center hours at Tampa Electric Company [TECO] to answer any visitor questions. Mr. Thom Stork, CEO & President of Florida Aquarium said, “TECO has been a wonderful partner of ours for years, and we’re excited to work together on this new guest experience that will educate and connect people with the natural environment.”
Jamie Woodlee, the Manatee Viewing Center’s Senior Environmental Technician said, “Having the touch tank here gives our visitors another fun, interactive and educational experience. And like all the other exhibits here, it’s free.” Ms. Woodlee continued and said, “We offer families and out-of-town visitors a slice of Florida in a small space. It’s a free, fun and educational experience and an opportunity for them to learn how industry and nature works (harmoniously) side by side. We’re looking forward to another record-breaking season. Guests can see manatees, fish, rays, seabirds, crabs, mangroves, an estuary – essentially anything they might see in Tampa Bay – during their visits.”
The center is open now through April 15th. Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center is located at…
6990 Dickman Road
Apollo Beach, Florida
Hours: 10am to 5pm seven days a week through April 15th. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It also closes at 3pm on Christmas Eve.
Admission and parking are free. If you would like more information, please call 813-228-4289. Here is their web address: tampaelectric.com/manatee
And more great news for you! You can now find all of my Kobee Manatee® children’s educational books right in their awesome gift shop! Ok – I want you to visit the center and enjoy a small slice of Florida!
If you see any sick or injured manatees, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: 1-888-404-FWCC. They are the folks who are responsible for rescuing us in Florida.
Here’s the Save the Manatee Club link to learn more about us manatees …
Here’s a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation …
~ Kobee Manatee