Saturday, January 10, 2015

Looking for Manatee


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 65, low 52)


The cold front is still sticking around, but it looks like we’ll be back up to the upper 70’s tomorrow.


Cold weather brings the Florida manatee to warmer water, so we figured yesterday would be a good day to go to Big Ben Power Plant in nearby Apollo Beach.  

We usually go there every year or two.

Map picture

We hopped on I-75 and made the drive south.  We find it’s much easier to use the interstate nowadays because the traffic is horrible.  It can take 15 minutes to go 5 miles to the grocery store.  Red light, red light, red light.  Too many snowbirds, too many people. 

Back in the 80’s the power plant started noticing manatee hanging out by the warm water discharge areas, during periods of cold weather.  After a manatee got caught in one of their water intake areas, they made changes to prevent it happening in the future. To their credit, they built a wonderful manatee viewing center with trails, viewing areas, and an a visitor center with interactive games for the kids.  The best thing (besides the manatee) is that it’s FREE!

We pulled into the parking lot and noticed these solar trees.

Sun trees at Big Ben

6 of these trees can power two houses for a year.   Nice idea, but can you imagine how many trees we’d need?

Sun trees at Big Ben

If you have an electric car, you can plug in here and get a charge.     For a FEE!

charge your electric car....for a fee. 

  So much for free solar power, huh?

charge your electric car...for a fee

It felt wicked cold yesterday, mostly due to the wind.  Of course there were a few northerners in shorts and t-shirts.

The kids were sure enjoying the games they had in the visitor center. 


There were plenty of manatee hanging out by the warm water discharge areas.  They have built a wonderful overlook area where you can get a good view of the water.

This one loved to lay on her back and chill.  She would float around on her back, turn over once in a while, then be right back on her back again.   Isn’t she cute?

manatee resting on her back

Manatee often turn over and float for a few seconds, but she was unusual staying on her back most of the time.

manatee resting on her back

The Manatee Rescue group was out tagging manatee.





An article we read in the paper this morning said that they released a manatee there yesterday (must have been before we got there, darn it).  It had been captured the previous year after suffering from cold stress. It rehabilitated at Lowry Park Zoo.  Sure wish we would have been there for the release.  I wonder if it was Miss Back floater?   She sure seemed to be happy.


There were a lot of manatee there, but with the wind and cold, we didn’t take too much time taking pictures.

Only one was posing for us anyway.  :)

manatee resting on her back

Here is a picture I borrowed from the web showing the concentration of manatee during cold months.



This is a more flattering picture of the Florida manatee.  Cute, aren’t they?


We drove over to a nearby nature trail, but unfortunately it was closed for rehabilitation.  It seemed to be poor timing.


I’m sure everybody has seen Grumpy Cat”    

th (7)

Have you seen Grumpy Man?



(sorry Al, I couldn’t resist)   This was taken shortly after he had his surgery and he was a bit grumpy.


  1. Always fun to see the manatee. We have not been over this year.

  2. We loved floating with the Manatee the last couple of years but unfortunately we won't be doing it this year. They are known as the gentle giants of the sea.
    Sorry Al but Karen is right. There is quite a resemblance between you in that picture and Grumpy Cat. LOL.
    Keep dreaming of those warmer days in the Keys.
    Be Safe and Enjoy.

    It's about time.

  3. The grumpy cat and grumpy man pictures are hilarious! They really do have the exact same expressions. We laughed so hard. I think Al has good reason to be grumpy. Not sure about the cat. We love the Apollo spot and appreciate what a great job the power company did in providing such nice facilities for free. I'd really like to have a chance at those games but the kids are always all over them. I'm surprised to see that it's colder here than it is for you in Quail Run. Low last night was 44. I always thought south of Sarasota would be warmer than North of Tampa but not so much.

  4. Love the manatees! Today's high in Central Missouri will be in the 30's. Great grumpy cat impersonation. .

  5. Maybe Al could work at Disney World as one of the seven dwarfs. You know which one. ;)

  6. Great shots! We visited there on Thursday and it was wicked cold and windy! We saw one of the monitors on one of the manatee and I tried to get a shot of that back floater! She (or he) was really relaxed. Love the free places!

  7. Poor Al. Grumpy I'm sure. He's had his share of surgery, rashes, and just all around blah. Hope he's starting to feel a bit better.

  8. Which one is Al and which one is Grumpy Cat? I can't tell the difference... :cD

  9. I truly loved Grumpy Cat/Grumpy Man. Perfect! Loved that manatee on her back...she just seemed so happy.

  10. This is "my" third winter in Florida, and still have not seen a was on the list last year and then the "fire". I hope to get over to the power plant this year....unless they float into Tarpon Springs' Spring Bayou, which would be a much easier drive for us. And Al, you have every right to be grumpy. --Dave (


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