Manatee Park at Fort Myers
Manatee Park in Lee County becomes a warm water refuge for manatees in Southwest Florida when water temperatures drop below 68 degrees. The Florida Power and Light discharge canal is located near Fort Myers.
Manatees typically are present from late December through February, depending on weather. Don't expect a stray animal to show up during warm weather. With the better manatee feeding areas far from Manatee Park, there is no reason for an animal to make a surprise summer time visit.
When the manatees are gathered in the canal's turbid water, the animals are visible only when their bodies are above the surface. You will see the creatures better in the shallower, clearer water away from the spillway.
As in most cold water refuges, as the day warms the manatees start to depart the canal in search of food. Come early for the best viewing.
The canal area itself is fenced to prevent boats from entering. Outside the fence, you can rent or launch a kayak to float over any animals near the blocked off section.
From Nov. 1 to April 1, the Manatee Kayaking Company offers a guided manatee tour along the adjacent Orange River. It also offers rental sit on top single and double kayaks. Phone 239-913--9993 and its website. Open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
although checking ahead is always a good idea.
Hours: Open 8 a.m. to sunset every day including holidays. No pets allowed.
Parking Fees: $2/hour or $5/day from December through March; $1/hour/or $5/day from April through November
Location: 10901 State Road 80/Palm Beach Blvd. Fort Myers FL 33905; phone 239-690-5030.
Directions: Directions: Take I-75 to exit 141. Go east 1.25 miles. The park is on the right (directly across the street from the FPL Power Plant).
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