Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Manatee Mania II

Sarasota, Fl            High:   66     Low:   48

Sparky is up, rested, and ready to report!  OK, the latest news flash out of Florida...Alvin, the right hand man of the Amish Mafia TV reality show's Lebanon Levi,  got arrested in Sarasota today on a D.U.I. Sparky just thought you might want to know....(Yes, there's really is such a thing as the Amish Mafia, at least that's the story, and they're sticking to it!)  Hey, it's a slow world out there in Blogland today.....

(Uh, Sparky, remember the manatees?!) Oh, yeah! We were there yesterday and it was very cool! (The Manatee Viewing Center by the Tampa electric plant in Apollo Beach, 30 minutes from Sun 'n' Fun.) The water out in the Tampa Bay was below 59 degrees, which is a environmental signal to the manatees to find warmer water.

They come into the electric plant's water channel when the temperatures out in the gulf waters drop below 68 degrees.  The discharge waters from the plant make the channel temperature very warm, like tepid bath water--The channel was 80 degrees yesterday. There were anywhere from 150-250 manatees in the channel today..This photo to the right is on the small side of the observation viewing platform and early this morning there were about FIFTY of them jammed into this little shallow area, said one of the volunteers who works there. On the other side of the boardwalk, there were lots, lots more. This is just one little section of the channel directly in front of us.

Excellent viewing!

We had a wonderful time watching them and the spinner shark that jumped completely out of the water, spun around and dove back down. We saw lots of tarpon swimming with the manatees, they look like little sharks. Guess they are one heckuva sporting, fighting fish when you try to land one....

We enjoyed watching the several busloads of kids come onto the observation deck and enthusiastically exclaim over the many manatees they were seeing....

We enjoyed talking to a volunteer on the observation deck...He told us a lot of stuff about manatees, some information we already knew, some we didn't. We didn't know manatees never have twins. They only give birth to one calf, so if you see more than one little one next to a mama, it's been adopted.

The males do their thing and leave, they don't help raise the babies. He told us about some of the goofy but honest questions kids ask. Sparky was SHOCKED at the language young kids use to ask about manatee mating habits! Sparky asked an important question about the brown floating bark like pieces in the water...(She just HAD to ask! says an embarrassed E.) "Is that manatee poop?"  Yep, it sure was! In case anybody wants to know, it was the size of large dog poop or a little breakfast sausage...TMI? Too much information? Sorry!  Hm-m-mmmm...Sparky has seen that stuff in waters she has kayaked in!

We saw a boat out in the channel...They were tagging the manatees for genetic research....They were careful to come in slowly and quietly with a little trolling motor, but boy, did the manatees dive when they got close! You can see the circular flat footprint they leave when they dive, there were a BUNCH of flat circles when the boat got close as the manatees dove out of the way.

There's a lot of other stuff to see when you go to the center besides the manatees. We've mentioned some things before, but there might be a new reader out there so here's a little more info. There's a great deal of information INSIDE the Manatee Center. Exhibits with lots of information about Tampa Electric's environmental policies, how they recycle everything they can in the production of electricity, how the steam coming out of the towers is 98% pure steam, how they are environmental stewards of the area. You can walk a 900 foot tidal sidewalk out along the channel, going through a mangrove forest, listening to audio information about the beach and mangrove inhabitants, looking for tarpon along the rail, and seeing more manatees further out in the channel. The center closes April 30, because the manatees start staying out in the gulf with the warmer spring and summer weather/water temperatures coming.

We enjoyed watching another adult check out the hurricane simulator on the grounds of the center. For two bucks you can have yourself blown about inside the tube. This gentleman first did a crazy, "Oh, my God!" face when it really started blowing inside, but Sparky missed that photo op! The simulation costs you a dollar a minute.

There's a butterfly garden and a gift shop with all things manatee inside. We sure enjoyed our repeat visit to the center today...It's not to be missed when visiting Sarasota, that's for sure!

A note to Tom and Red who asked for where we've been looking in what neighborhoods. Please email me. I tried to find a way to respond to you, but there's no email address listed for you when I click on your name. Thanks for asking, we'd love to help.


  1. I'm shocked anyone working with manatee would use a power boat rather than a canoe. They'd sure never do that here. Wonder if that's the difference between state run and corporate run??
    Glad you had fun seeing them though. They are amazing.

  2. Thanks for sharing that experience with us, guess we need to check that out someday too.

  3. That's a great place to watch Manatee. We haven't been yet this year. Thanks for the nice pictures.

  4. EWwww we were just cooking breakfast sausage ... now I can't get that image outta my head!

    Karen and Steve
    RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  5. Oops, see you got an anonymous post slip through..grrr. I had to laugh, we've watched Amish Mafia a time or two :) Just loving those Manatees!

  6. Love those Manatees and your got some great pics. Thanks