Two broad snouts snuffle up from the water at the edge of the walking path along Coffee Pot Bayou. A manatee and her baby drift over to the storm drain to drink fresh water coming down from nearby Lake Crescent. The baby cuddles close. A small group of locals lean over the edge of the concrete bulkhead to watch "their" manatees. They speak in happy whispers and take photos with their cell phones to send to friends in colder climes.
Common to the bayou for most of the year, manatees are almost an everyday sight during the cooler winter months when colder waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay drive them to the shallow warmer waters of Coffee Pot Bayou. As spring approaches groups of courting manatees can be seen rolling around each other in the shallow waters.
Keeping them company are statuesque Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets, shy Green Herons, and gregarious Laughing Gulls. Red-ear slider turtles can often be seen popping their heads up in the water or sunning themselves on boat ramps. Even a dolphin or two join in on the fun.
The broad sidewalk along Coffee Pot Bayou is part of a 2-mile walking/biking path that extends from downtown St. Petersburg and follows the edge of Tampa Bay before entering Coffee Pot Bayou. It is a safe, well-lit path with fantastic views, comfortable benches for resting, access to a small beach off of North Shores Park, and opportunities for fishing.
Our manatee spot is at Coffee Pot Blvd and 23rd Ave NE.