Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Manatees in Hot Water

February 21, 2012
Today’s highlight was a visit to the Tampa Electric Company’s Manatee Viewing Center—a canal where water taken from Tampa Bay to cool electricity generators is discharged (“clean and warm,” as their brochure says) back into the Bay.  Although dumping scalding water into the ecosystem sounds like a bad thing, the manatees and lots of fish really love the warm water, as we observed while strolling the boardwalks that line the discharge canal.  (Thermometers along the boardwalk indicated that the canal temperature was ninety degrees, while the water in the estuary outside the canal was below seventy degrees.)

Looking down from the raised boardwalk, we could see lots of manatees lolling in the clear water beneath us.  Not one was free of scars from close encounters with boats.

A volunteer on the boardwalk had a cart full of manatee bones, and was giving a talk, but when we approached and heard him say, “When we was born, God gave us two sets of teeth. . .” we decided to just skip his presentation.

We had a fresh caught fish lunch overlooking the Apollo Beach Marina, then explored a little nature trail and beach nearby, at the inlet to the Tampa Electric Company  discharge canal (lots of people catching fish here and a few wading out to be among the passing manatees).  We enjoyed the antics of the pelicans that were hanging around hopefully watching the fishing folk.

Back at Little Harbor, we donned our bathing suits and headed to a shady corner of the pool deck to read until the sun got so low that we felt a bit chilly. 

 We feel as though we are really excelling at this exercise in relaxation.

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