"Brr! Florida Manatees Warm Up At Power Plant Hot Tub"

"RIVIERA BEACH -- An offline Florida power plant is providing a warm-water refuge for several hundred manatees who like the Sunshine State's human residents are shivering in record low cold temperatures.

Close to 400 of the bulky, wrinkly and endangered sea mammals, including mothers and young, have congregated at an outlet on Florida's Intracoastal Waterway where heated water flows from the Riviera Power Plant operated by the Florida Power and Light Company, a unit of the FPL Group Inc (FPL.N).

The oil- and gas-fired plant was taken off line last year for modernization but FPL has installed a special heating system to keep waters at an attractively balmy temperature for the manatees who have been gathering at the outlet for years.

"The water that discharges into the area where the manatees gather comes out at 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33 Celsius). It gives a nice combination by the time it mixes with the natural water ... it's very comfortable for them and they enjoy it," FPL spokesperson Sharon Bennett told Reuters."

Carlos Barria reports for Reuters January 8, 2010.

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Friday, January 8, 2010