Manatees Cool Their Flippers At Power Plants

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For Florida's manatees, the colder temperatures of fall and winter have always meant a harder search for the warm water they love.

During winter months  manatees used to migrate from hot spring to hot spring as they made their way south in the Gulf of Mexico.

But in recent years, power plants are giving manatees more cozy gathering spots along the way.

Coastal power plants, which have dramatically risen with Florida's population since 1980, cool their condensers using ambient water from bayous, lagoons and the Atlantic Ocean. The water is then released, somewhat warmer, back to its source. Manatees are now gathering by the hundreds in those discharge areas outside of the plants.

Ron Mezich, a Biological Scientist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told Here & Now's Robin Young that when the water dips to 68 degrees, manatees begin to feel an impact and seek out warmer water. The springs in Florida waterways are typically 72 degrees, but "power plants offer them 80 degree discharge waters," which they prefer.


  • Ron Mezich, Biological Scientist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

This segment aired on September 6, 2011.


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