Manatee Viewing Center at Big Bend Power Station
The Big Bend Power Station is a coal-fired power plant located in Apollo Beach, Florida. The plant originally opened in 1970 and later added Big Bend Unit 4 in 1986. The plant draws saltwater from Tampa Bay and uses it to cool Unit 4. After the unit is cooled, warm saltwater is returned to the bay. Manatees seek necessary refuge from the colder water and gather in the discharge canal. Dozens of West Indian manatees, an endangered species, are drawn to the power station. The station’s canal has now become a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary.
The Manatee Viewing Center has an outdoor manatee observation area and an indoor environmental education building. Walk along the 900 foot tidal walk with views of the estuary. The walk has signs along the way pointing out wildlife and even leads through mangrove tunnels. The plant boasts an award winning butterfly garden too! Learn all about manatees and see actual manatee bones. Ever wonder how a power plant operates? See how Big Bend Power Station provides electricity for the community. You will discover how the plant’s byproducts are reused in an environmentally responsible manner. Step inside the hurricane simulator and experience the strong winds of a hurricane. An extensive gift shop offers souvenirs to remember your visit!
The Manatee viewing Center is open November 1st until April 15th. You can look for manatees from home using the live webcam on their website. For further information and to view the live webcam, please visit: www.tampaelectric.com/company/mvc
Address: 6990 Dickman Rd
Apollo Beach, FL 33572
Phone: (813) 228-4289
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Open: Nov. 1 through April 15 (closed Thanksgiving, at 3 p.m. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Easter)
Please note: Smoking is permitted in designated areas only; shoes and shirts required; no pets allowed (service animals only). The MVC is ADA-compliant.