In Your Backyard: The Manatee Viewing Center
Where: 6990 Dickman Rd
Apollo Beach, FL 33572
Phone: (813) 228-4289
Season: November 1 through April 15
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Did you know the average manatee weighs approximately 1000 pounds and can eat 10-15% of their body weight in vegetation every day? Manatees are marine mammals, native to Florida, that must surface approximately every 5 minutes to breathe air. Also known as a “sea cow,” manatees usually spend up to eight hours a day grazing on seagrasses and other aquatic plants. The native Florida manatee are protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, Florida Statutes, and are federally protected by both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. During cold months manatees in the southern United States migrate to the warm waters of south Florida, or find a source of warm water such as artesian springs or industrial discharges.
Tucked away among the mangroves of Apollo Beach, the Manatee Viewing Center offers a unique slice of Florida and a chance for the whole family to see manatees up close. During the colder months, you can see manatees swimming in the clean, warm water reservoir from the observation platform. Inside the Environmental Education Building, you will experience murals, movies, photographs, an authentic manatee skeleton, plus a life-size fiberglass manatee reproduction!