Were Manatees Mistaken as Mermaids?

Dear Sara –

I’ve heard that people used to confuse the sea mammals manatees with mermaids. Can this really be true – that someone saw a resemblance between something that looks like a walrus and a seductive woman?

–Best wishes, Larry T.

Dear Larry –

Given that manatees are actually of the order Sirenia, along with their ocean-going cousins, the dugongs, it seems that these herbivorous aquatic creatures were indeed mistaken for mermaids and the seductive singers of Greek myth, the Sirens. It seems that ancient manatees were more svelte than their current descendants, ancient sailors had terrible eyesight, or else standards of beauty were very different back in the day.

-Sara Bellum

manatees mermaids

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Sara Bellum
The name's Sara Bellum, and I'm the editor-at-large here at BuzzyMag - the hostess with the mostess, if you will. I like to think that my first calling is fighting crime and delivering a heaping dose of sweet, sweet justice to all manner of thugs, miscreants, hoodlums, ruffians, and ne'er-do-wells, but unfortunately, violent vigilantism doesn't exactly pay big bucks these days.  

Times are tough, my friends, and I've got bills to pay, so I decided to put my encyclopedic knowledge of all things sci-fi & fantasy-related to use to help me land a day job. To tell you the truth, it's kind of a nice change of pace. My manicures have been lasting a bit longer lately.