After our cruise, we spent a couple days in the Tampa area to see the sights. This is one of the biggies - Tampa Electric Company's Big Bend Power Station. But why???
See all those things that look like rocks?
They are actually manatees! There are hundreds here, basking in the warm water put out by the power station.
There is a nice manatee viewing center here, which is both a federal and state manatee sanctuary.
This one has a tracking device. I feel sorry for it - it must be difficult to drag it around.
We also saw several Spotted Eagle Rays! This one seemed to be attached to a big fish, which I didn't really understand.
There were also a lot of Black-Tipped Sharks, which jumped up, spun around several times, and splashed back down. Of course, it's impossible to get a picture of anything but the splash.
A long, long time ago, when I was in high school, I had the most wonderful pen pal from Sweden, Lena. We reconnected a few years ago on Facebook, and she told me that she was going to be in the Tampa area. So we arranged to meet. Wow - 50 years later! It was wonderful - I was amazed at how well she spoke and understood English - she had learned it in school, and I don't remember anything from school!
We met at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a unique marine life rescue center.
But the big attraction for me was that it is the home of Winter and Hope, the stars of the Dolphin Tale movies, 2 of my very favorite movies.
In addition to the movie-star dolphins, we got to see some of the sets from the movie, including this houseboat.
And we got to see Winter (the star of the original movie, where they made her a prosthetic tail after she lost hers when it became entangled in a crab trap) and Hope, her new friend from the 2nd movie.