NewsProtecting Paradise


Manatees draw audience's attention during presentation at FPL's ManateeFest

4,000 visitors attend seventh annual event in West Palm Beach
Crowd looks for manatees during FPL's ManateeFest in West Palm Beach.
Posted at 6:04 PM, Feb 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-04 21:02:34-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Heartwarming, ironic moments were captured in a Facebook live [] during the seventh ManateeFest at FPL’s Manatee Lagoon on Saturday.

In the middle of a Coastal Chat educational presentation titled “Magnificent Manatees,” the speaker was interrupted by manatees who stole the audience’s attention.

Rachel Shanker, who is Manatee Lagoon’s conservation liaison and educator, had presented a family-friendly “Coastal Chat” that detailed manatee biology, the challenges they face such as boat strikes and what makes them unique in the animal kingdom. Around the 22:30-time stamp mark of the Facebook live video, Shanker heard something that alerted her. She immediately turned around and exclaimed, “Is there one? All right, everybody, forget it – go see the manatees!”

Rachel Shanker speaks to the crowd at FPL's ManateeFest.
Rachel Shanker, who is Manatee Lagoon’s Conservation Laison and educator,
peaks to the crowd at FPL's ManateeFest in West Palm Beach.

The crowd of about 40 people obliged, with an enthusiastic rush to the observation deck ledge.

Although the waters shown on camera were a bit choppy, making it tough for viewers to make out the precise when one of the manatees surfaced to take a breath – the crowd’s collective shouts of joy highlight the magic moment.

Although Manatee Lagoon’s address marks its location in West Palm Beach, the adjacent FPL Riviera Beach Clean Energy Center puts out clean, warm water that attracts manatees when temperatures cool off.

Family takes a 360-degree photo at ManateeFest's Conservation Pledge Station.jpg
Family takes a 360-degree photo at ManateeFest's Conservation Pledge Station.

More than 4,000 visitors attended the ManateeFest to celebrate Florida's official mammal.

The celebration included environmental exhibitors, arts and crafts vendors, educations presentations and activities for kids.

The conversation mission for the lagoon is to replace paper maps, brochures and other items as a way to reduce waste for sustainability.

“This event is important to really teach both our locals and visitors to Palm Beach County the importance of conservation and how their efforts can make a positive impact in our environment," Zack Greenberg, who is the senior operation manager for FPL's Manatee Lagoon.

FWC exhibits a manatee transport truck donated by FPL to help manatee rescue efforts.jpg