As a native Floridian, I’m pretty familiar with the slow-moving, gentle sea cow, the manatee. It’s been all over the news here lately about the manatee “parties” popping up all over the local springs and intracoastal waterways, so we decided what better thing to do on Valentine’s Day than to go see these sweet creatures. We headed out to the coast and were blown away by this amazing aggregation of manatees.
One of the reasons I love the manatee is that it’s the source of mermaid myths and legends. Growing up, I had my fair share of daydreams of wishing to be a mermaid. Granted, my image was a bit more glamorous, kind of like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend their days singing with fish, combing their hair with a fork, and sporting a pretty rad seashell top?
Manatees are part of the scientific classification order Sirenia, which is derived from the sirens of Greek mythology. Clearly the men at sea who brought us the mermaid lure were suffering from malnutrition, heat exhaustion, or both if they thought the manatee was a smoking hot mermaid – or maybe they just liked their ladies grey with some serious facial whiskers. I will say that these amazing animals do have strikingly human-like eyes and I guess (eh?) I can see how from (really) far away they could be mistaken as half-human, half-fish. Although many sailors described them as beautiful, Christopher Columbus was less than impressed as he said they’re “not half as beautiful as they are painted.”
I happen to think manatees are all kinds of awesome and ridiculously cute, in an adorable grandma mermaid kind of way. Unfortunately, many are still injured by boaters and poisonous algae. Seeing so many with scars and injuries brought a bit of sadness to our manatee sighting as I had to explain to Nugget what happened to them and how humans need to help in caring for animals and the environment. Thankfully, manatees have been removed from the endangered species list, but we still must be careful in the waters around them.
So here’s to these beautiful animals and I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about them – remember, sea cows need love too 🙂