RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. – As the Sunshine State anticipates the return of its favorite marine mammal to the local waterways, Manatee Lagoon – An FPL Eco-Discovery Center® reopens the inside of its facility with new educational offerings and upgrades on Monday, Nov. 1.
“As we kick off manatee season, we’re excited to welcome visitors back to Manatee Lagoon and share our new offerings and engaging programming for them to learn all about manatees,” said Pam Rauch, vice president of external affairs and economic development for Florida Power & Light Company (FPL). “FPL is committed to environmental stewardship and helping to protect Florida’s wildlife. Now more than ever, educating visitors on manatees is key to helping protect these wonderful creatures and the ecosystems they inhabit.”
Florida’s manatee season runs from Nov. 15 to March 31, during which time manatees migrate to warmer waters. When the waters of Lake Worth Lagoon dip to 68 degrees or colder, manatees gather in the clean, warm-water outflows surrounding FPL’s Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center, adjacent to Manatee Lagoon.
In addition to providing guests with panoramic views of Lake Worth Lagoon and manatees in season, the center also offers a variety of ongoing activities including free educational lectures, arts and crafts and more.
Now in its sixth year of manatee education and environmental conservation, Manatee Lagoon is a popular community destination, which makes it an ideal place for people to learn about these beloved marine mammals. FPL built Manatee Lagoon in 2016 as part of its environmental mission to teach the public about manatees, with a goal of inspiring communities to preserve and protect Florida’s environment and wildlife for future generations.
“We’re using our platform to educate visitors about what’s happening to manatees in the wild, and show them how they can help,” said Sarah Marmion, manager of Manatee Lagoon. “Although these gentle water giants are an iconic part of our local ecosystem, it’s up to us to protect them.”
New for the 2021/2022 season:
Enhanced outdoor walking pathways and 3D augmented reality solar exhibit
Newly planted lush landscaping of dune sunflowers and native Florida flowering trees join solar canopies and a new augmented reality exhibit. Visitors can use their cell phones to make “Sunny” appear – a 3D animated junior solar tree who teaches about solar technology and the environmental benefits of clean energy. It’s “info-tainment” visitors of all ages can enjoy!
Self-guided tours and virtual visits
Visitors who return to the indoor portion of the facility can now enjoy self-guided tours at their convenience by scanning QR codes on signage around the building. Expert Manatee Masters will share information on a wide range of topics. For those who prefer to stay home, the educational tour videos will be offered on Manatee Lagoon’s website.
Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m., visitors can participate in short walking tours along the shoreline of Manatee Lagoon. Led by Manatee Masters, guests will learn more about Lake Worth Lagoon, an extraordinary 20-mile urban estuary, which serves as home to all kinds of marine creatures, including manatees. Programming begins November 8.
“Lagoonside Chats” and new outdoor seating
Daily at 2 p.m., Manatee Masters will offer an outdoor seated talk from Manatee Lagoon’s new Adirondack seating section along the first-floor observation deck. Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Programming begins November 8.
Every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:45 p.m. and Saturday at 8 a.m., adult yoga classes are led by certified instructors against the calming backdrop of Lake Worth Lagoon. Advance registration is required as space is limited.
“Manatee Tales Story Time”
The popular storytime returns with new take-home coloring activities on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. Listen as a Manatee Master storyteller reads from a selection of engaging books, which share stories about various aquatic species that live in the Lake Worth Lagoon and the waters beyond. Targeted for children ages 2 and older. Programming begins November 8.
Enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols
Manatee Lagoon has added enhanced cleaning measures and installed HEPA filtration units, as well as touchless soap, paper towel and hand sanitizer dispensers in restrooms. When visiting the indoor portion of the facility, masks are encouraged for all, and required for unvaccinated visitors. Social distancing and masks are strongly encouraged throughout the property.
About Manatee Lagoon – An FPL Eco-Discovery Center®
Manatee Lagoon – An FPL Eco-Discovery Center® is a free Palm Beach County educational attraction with a dedicated area to view manatees up close. The 16,000-square-foot center features engaging, hands-on exhibits for visitors to learn all about the unique creatures as well as the natural wonders of the surrounding Lake Worth Lagoon. During the colder winter months, the facility’s observation deck is the ideal spot to view manatees basking in the clean, warm-water outflows from Florida Power & Light Company’s adjacent Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center. Manatee Lagoon also offers digital resources and educational virtual content for manatee fans near and far on its website: VisitManateeLagoon.com.
Starting Nov. 1, 2021, the center will be open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for major holidays, until March 31, 2022, which marks the end of manatee season. April 1 through Nov. 14, 2022, the center will observe the same hours, with the exception of Mondays when the center will be closed.