Christopher Columbus sailing near the Dominican Republic, sees three “mermaids” in reality they were actually manatees he described them as “not half as beautiful as they are painted.” Six months earlier, Columbus set off from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean with the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, hoping to find a western trade route to Asia. Instead, his voyage, the first of four he would make, led him to the Americas, or “New World.”
Mermaids, mythical half-female, half-fish creatures, have existed in sea cultures at least since the time of the ancient Greeks. Depicted as having a woman’s head and torso, a fishtail instead of legs, mermaids live in the ocean and, according to some legends, can take on a human shape and marry mortal men. Mermaids are closely linked to sirens, another folkloric figure, part-woman, part-bird, who live on islands and sing seductive songs to lure sailors to their deaths.
Mermaid sightings by sailors, when they weren’t made up, were most likely manatees aka sea cows. Manatees are slow moving aquatic mammals with human-like eyes, big round faces and paddle like tails. It is likely that manatees evolved from an ancestor they share with the elephant. As adults, they’re typically 10 to 12 feet long and weigh 800 to 1,200 pounds. They’re plant-eaters, have a slow metabolism and can only survive in warm water.
Us Floridians definitely watch out for manatees, we respect their slow moving swim and have nothing but patience when we see one! If we see one and its moving so slow instead of getting annoyed we all marvel at their beauty! Just the other day we were doing a yacht sign installation on a beautiful catamaran and the owner of this vessel jumped in the water for a quick swim…..and boom at of no where this marvelous manatee decided he wanted a swimming buddy! We were all standing on the dock luckily caught it on camara!