How Did Manatees Inspire Mermaid Legends?
Sailors across cultures thought the aquatic mammals were young women of the sea.
It's that time of year when manatees, the slow-moving aquatic mammals of the southeast coast of North America, start to migrate south into warmer waters—and often run into trouble.
In Florida, many of the languid giants—also called sea cows—are killed each year in boating collisions. (See also: "Record 829 Manatee Deaths in 2013 Puzzle Scientists.")
That's why November is also Manatee Awareness Month, which just this year became official in the state of Florida. Governor Rick Scott issued a proclamation to protect the state's official mammal as a "distinctive, valuable, and beloved natural resource."
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the American manatee—also known as the West Indian manatee—as vulnerable, with less than 10,000 individuals of that