Fun With Mermaids and Manatees

5db25225 4c95 4bc5 8d6a 6a9a0bd6ba7bImage via

On Jan 9, 1493, while sailing in the Caribbean, Christopher Columbus mistook manatees for mermaids, writing in his journal that they weren’t nearly as pretty as they had been portrayed in artwork.

Manatees look like giant turds in the water. They don’t look at all to be human. How Columbus could have possibly mistaken this:

little mermaid

…for this…

manatee a

…has to be one of the funniest blunders of his voyage (because mistaking Native Americans for Indians wasn’t funny at all).

If anything, it would be more understandable to mistake an extraordinarily obese woman in the water for a manatee (no picture necessary).

But maybe Columbus had every reason to assume the manatees were mermaids. Perhaps, at that time, mermaids had never been dis-proven to exist, and he certainly didn’t know about manatees. To Columbus, it was like hearing about a nightclub with really hot girls, but when he got there, they were heinous. That makes sense.

4824986157 61e7b19ca5 e1294610199436Image via flickr

Or… OR… what if it was the manatee looked more like a mermaid?

manatees e1294610264738Image via flickr. This was a contest for people to create manatees in various forms for charity.

This all could’ve been much worse for Columbus. He could’ve run into a Merman, like Ben Stiller in Zoolander.

mermanOr, perhaps the Merman turned out the way Family Guy explained:


Lois Griffin: He [Stewie] shot me point-blank right on the deck of the cruise ship! [the scene changes to the night where Stewie is shown firing his gun at her. She falls overboard and sinks, leaving a cloud of blood on the way down] I would have been dead if it hadn’t been for a passing merman… [a fish-like object grabs her and swims to an island] …who treated my wounds and carried me to safety. It sounds romantic, I know, but unfortunately, he was kind of the reverse of what you’d expect a merman to be. [Lois wakes up to a man with his upper body as a fish head, and his lower body with human legs]
Merman: I wish to make love to you.
Lois Griffin: Oh, uh… [chuckles] no, thank you.
Merman: What are you talking about? I thought this was a woman’s fantasy?
Lois Griffin: Yeah, but, this is sort of the opposite. Like, if you had a man’s body and fish legs, then it’d be different.
Merman: Yeah, but then I wouldn’t have a penis.
Lois Griffin: Well, but I–
Merman: See? there you go. I just poked a huge hole in your logic.
Lois Griffin: I’m sorry, I-I’m just gonna have to say no.
Merman: Maybe I feel like you owe me a little. [makes an advance towards her, but Lois shoves him to the ground, where he flops around like a real fish, then she walks away] Dammit!

The video of this keeps getting removed by 20th Century Fox, dammit.

Or hey, Weird Al mentions Manatee Lovin’ in this new tune called CNR! (Editor)

The folks at the Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida gave us what we really want: Shows that feature both mermaids and manatees! You know, to re-enact all those legends of their time together.

87963912 6a854d560eImage via flickr

There is even manatee and mermaid art available to purchase:

mermaid compared with the manatee at the zoological gardens london e1294610931628

And a postage stamp:Picture 15Image via

More must-read literature on this subject:

And that, my friends, has been today’s lesson in mermaids and manatees.