Home » Noteworthy » At FPL's Manatee Lagoon, You Can Learn About The Adorable Marine Mammals And Spot Them Swimming, Too

Noteworthy

At FPL's Manatee Lagoon, You Can Learn About The Adorable Marine Mammals And Spot Them Swimming, Too

Next time you're looking for things to do in Palm Beach County, consider taking the kids or nature-loving friends in town to Riviera Beach.

That's where a free educational and environmental attraction called Manatee Lagoon is opening next month, adjacent to the Florida Power & Light energy facility along the Lake Worth Lagoon.

Once FPL's eco-discovery center opens to the public Feb. 6, guests will be able to visit educational exhibits—where they can learn about the lives, migration patterns and protection of manatees—and hopefully see a few sea cows up-close during the cooler months.

When water temperatures fall below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, manatees migrate to warm-water refuge areas. The warm-water discharge from FPL's Riviera Beach Clean Energy Center has attracted these "Snowbirds of the Intracoastal" to the area for decades.

Peak manatee season runs from Nov. 15 to March 31, but even when there are no manatees around, "it'll still be a wonderful place to learn, to discover," FPL spokeswoman Elaine Hindsdale said.

The first floor of the 16,000-square-foot center will have educational exhibits created by museum design firm History Factory, interactive touchscreen displays, and a TV screen featuring a live feed of the Lake Worth Lagoon. This "manatee cam" can also be found online.

From the second floor, visitors can stand outside on an observation deck ideal for viewing the surrounding lagoon and the marine life below. 

"The water here is very clear. … You can see eagle rays, barracuda, all sorts of fish that swim in this area," Manatee Lagoon manager Sarah Marmion said.

Admission to the facility (and parking) will be entirely free, with "Manatee Masters" who are students from Florida Atlantic University available to give free tours to all guests, including school groups and other organizations.

In addition, plenty of meeting and events space on the upper level of the educational center will be available to groups for rental. The plan is for these spaces to play host to educational classes, camp activities and other sorts of programs.

Guests will also be able to enjoy the picnic area and pavilion, an on-site cafe and a gift shop selling manatee-themed items, much like the store at nearby Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

The Manatee Lagoon will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed Mondays. The public park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Here's a look in and around the work in progress:

Manatee Lagoon
Courtesy Manatee Lagoon

Manatee Lagoon
Lyssa Goldberg

Manatee Lagoon
Courtesy Manatee Lagoon

Manatee Lagoon
Lyssa Goldberg

Manatee Lagoon
Courtesy Manatee Lagoon

Manatee Lagoon
Lyssa Goldberg

Manatee Lagoon
Lyssa Goldberg

Manatee Lagoon
Lyssa Goldberg

Lyssa Goldberg
Lyssa Goldberg

Lyssa Goldberg
Lyssa Goldberg

Lyssa Goldberg
Lyssa Goldberg

Lyssa Goldberg
Lyssa Goldberg

Lyssa Goldberg
Courtesy Manatee Lagoon