I cannot believe that it is November already. Halloween is behind us, and the holiday season is upon us. What is next besides Thanksgiving and Christmas. After all, Tampa area is endless when it comes to things to do.
One thing comes to mind for me since I live in Florida. Well, more than one thing, ideal temperatures, less rain, and Florida manatees. Did you know that November is Manatee Awareness Month? Have you ever seen a manatee? Manatees are the gentle giants of the sea. They have front flippers and a flat tale. Back in history, they were mistaken for mermaids. They love our waters in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico because of our ideal temperatures. They do not want to freeze to death and are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures.
It is my mission to let you know about wonderful places in the Tampa Bay area to view these gentle giants. There are two places in particular that I think about when seeing manatee. One place is called TECO – Tampa Electric – Manatee Viewing Center. The other place that you can view manatee and even swim with them is in an area called Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa Springs, FL and also in Crystal River, FL. Those two areas are just about an hour north of Tampa, and are towns that are right next to each other.
TECO – Tampa Electric – Manatee Viewing Center - When you pass by this place, you will get thrown off. Why? TECO serves as Tampa areas source for electricity in many areas. Manatees flock here because with all of that energy, it creates warmer water temperatures. At this time of the year, and all throughout the winter, and parts of the Spring time, Florida Manatees flock to this area. There are hundreds and hundreds of them that can be seen. The viewing center is extremely educational with many of the presentations that they have, as well as the bridge that leads to the waters of these beautiful sea creatures. You want to know about the best part of the Manatee Viewing Center? It is free! Yes, two of my favorite words are “Fun and Free,” and that is what the TECO – Electric Manatee Viewing Center is like. Check it out! Remember the animals come and go at their free will. If you do not see them one day, that doesn’t mean you will not see a million of them the next day.
Homassassa Springs, FL and Crystal River, FL – This area is about an hour north of Tampa, FL, and is surrounded by spring water. Spring water is 72 degrees all year long. You know those days in the summer when the Gulf waters are so extremely hot at 90 degrees? The spring water is still at 72 degrees. For some of you that may be refreshing and for some of you that may be freezing. For the manatee, that is sweet paradise.
These areas are extremely prominent for manatee swimming/snorkeling tours. If you google Manatee Swimming tours, endless tours will come up. I have had the opportunity of swimming with the manatee. There were about 20 people participating in the tour. We all had wet suits to help us stay a little bit warmer. We also had floating noodles if you wanted to lean on something.
This was one of my most favorite tours. I felt that it was an even better experience than swimming with dolphin in the Bahamas. The reason is because the manatees were just free-spirited, and they were just very natural. With swimming with dolphin, they are trained a certain way, and you only have a short time with them. When you are swimming with manatee, they love people, and most likely give you attention by giving you manatee kisses to your goggles. I’ll be posting pictures of my experience swimming with the manatee. You will definitely mind.
In summary, keep in mind, seeing manatees in the wild are such a special thing. Tampa area is fortunate to have opportunities for everyone to see these wonderful gentle giants. It is a must do. I hope one day, based on reading this, you will get to have this wonderful, memorable experience.