Monday, February 17, 2020
Manatees, large cow-like water mammals, live in streams, estuaries and inland water ways along the Florida coast. They move easily between fresh and salt water. Slow and gentle, they can hold their breath underwater for up to 15 minutes. When exerting themselves by swimming, they come to the surface to breath every 3 minutes or sooner. Manatees can’t survive water temperatures below 68 degrees for any length of time.
In winter months, during cold snaps, the manatee habitat water temperatures begin to dip. Manatees look for warmer water. Where do they find warmer water?
Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), like other electric companies, generates electricity using gas turbines. In the electrical generation process, excess heat is created. Cool water from the surrounding environment is sucked into the plant for cooling. The plant makes the water hot and then pumps the hot water back out into the environment.
In this case, warm water is pumped out into Manatee Lagoon. During this visit, daytime highs were in the eighties. Overnight lows were in the upper sixties to low seventies. There weren’t any manatees to be seen. Manatees were not looking for warm water. There was plenty of warm water in the area.
In 2019, from a similar lagoon in Fort Meyers, Florida, manatees were plentiful because of cooler nighttime temperatures.
The trip to the lagoon was still a success. The Discovery Center, shown above, provides opportunities for visitors to learn about manatees and manatee habitat.
Outside, informational signage and displays provide information about Manatees.
The interior of the Discovery Center are modern museum quality display spaces rivaling many National Park Visitor Centers. Displays cover manatee environment, ecology and protection. Other aquatic creatures inhabiting manatee habitat are shown as well.
In addition to the excellent displays, staff is friendly and the restrooms are clean and orderly. The gift shop has cute manatee and Florida themed items.
This is a place to return to whenever in the Palm Beach area. We will.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!