Recently our friends took us to visit the Big Bend Power Station with the hope of seeing Manatee. We were all camped at Alafia River State Park in Lithia, Florida, which isn’t too far from the Big Bend Power Station.
Big Bend Power Station is location on Tampa Bay near Apollo Beach and covers more than 1,500 acres. This power station has four coal-fired units with a combined output of more than 1,700 megawatts and meets strict environmental regulations through the use of flue gas desulfurization systems or “scrubbers”, which remove sulfur dioxide produced when coal is burned. (some info taken from the web-sites mentioned here)
You can read about Big Bend Power Station here: http://www.tampaelectric.com/company/mvc/index.cfm?link=banner&source=hp&q=tampa+electric
Beginning around 1986 people started seeing Manatee, in large numbers, in the power station’s discharge canal, where saltwater – taken from Tampa Bay to cool Unit 4 – flowed, clean and warm, back to the bay. When Tampa Bay reached 68 degrees or colder, the mammals would seek out this new refuge.
The Manatee Viewing Center was soon born. Today, Big Bend’s discharge canal is a state and federally designated Manatee sanctuary that provides critical protection from the cold for these unique, gentle animals.
You can read about the Manatee Viewing Center (MCV) here: http://www.tampaelectric.com/company/mvc/index.cfm?link=banner&source=hp&q=tampa+electric
It was very exciting for me to witness the results of a partnership, between the Tampa Electric Company and others, and the need to protect the wildlife that visits this area, especially the Manatee.
I believe they are doing an outstanding job in meeting the power needs of people working and living in and around Tampa, while providing a safe environment for these mammals during the winter months.