UNDER THE WATER

While manatees and sea turtles rule the Gulf waters, the Manatee River is a different story. From snook to catfish, the waters are full of freshwater fish big and small. Walk along the Riverwalk and see schools of bass below the surface. Or, reel them in on a guided fishing trip or by simply casting your line from one of the many river bridges. Either way, you’ll find that the river is teeming with snook, bass, catfish, redfish, trout and more. And since the river is connected to the Gulf, you’re not far from seeing plenty of saltwater fish as well. Tarpon, one of the Gulf’s largest fish, can grow well over 200 lbs. And the mullet fish of the Gulf is the main ingredient of Botargo, a delicacy in the Bradenton Area. Other fish common to the Gulf waters include sand trout, flat fish, dolphin fish, amberjack and more. But don’t worry; you’re sure to see plenty of manatees in and around the river. After all, it isn’t called The Manatee River for nothing.

IN THE SKY

You don’t just have to look in the water to find Bradenton Area wildlife. Many different species of birds flock to the Manatee River’s shores throughout the year. See herons soar high above the docks and piers. Find egrets scavenging the riverbed. And watch as roseate spoonbills wade through the shallow inlets of the river. You can try to spot them all on a guided birding tour with Around The Bend Nature Tours. Or, take your binoculars over to Robinson Nature Preserve to look for birds yourself. Whether you’re a casual observer or a die-hard bird-watcher, you’ll find plenty of picture-perfect moments of native birds along the Manatee River and throughout the Bradenton Area.

AT THE MUSEUM

Located near the west end of the Riverwalk on 9th Street, the South Florida Museum is the place to get an up-close look at all of the area’s animals. Spend an afternoon walking through the halls to see some of the biggest snook and boldest birds on display. For the best look at the Manatee River’s ecosystem, check out the Riverene exhibit in the Environmental Hall. Just be sure to say hi to Snooty the Manatee before you leave.