Manatees are credited with being the inspiration for the first mermaid sightings. In the days that Columbus “sailed the ocean blue” he recorded in his diary that three not so pretty mermaids were rising out of the sea. Because manatees are known to stand on their tails many believe that Columbus’ mermaids were actually manatees.
In the South Pacific the dugong, a close relative of the manatee, is known as the “lady of the sea” where residents of Malaysia and Palau celebrate this gentle animal. Many historians believe that it was here after Europeans spent several months at sea they mistook the dugong for a mermaid.
Today both the manatee and the dugong are protected by law and listed as threatened on the endangered species list. Their friendly nature may be what has put this “mermaid” into trouble.
When the northern waters start to get colder many manatees will head south with a large concentration of the population in Florida. They do not shy away from humans and although they can swim very fast they spend most of their time in rivers and creeks. This time of year is particularly dangerous and the number one concern for manatees is boaters. The thick skin on their backs and surprising speed is very helpful in defense against sharks, but boat motors are a little more dangerous.
If you would like to learn more about manatees check out these Arbordale books that feature mermaids!
By Ann Downer illustrated by Shennen Bersani
“Who am I?” wonders Shark Baby. When his “mermaid’s purse” egg case is torn loose in a storm, he finds himself on a journey through different ocean habitats: kelp forests, coral reefs, and seagrass meadows. He learns what kind of shark he isn’t, but not what kind he is. He needs to find the “mermaid” to learn where he belongs, but the ocean is big and full of dangers. Will he find out who he is—and what he can do—in time?
Felina’s New Home: A Florida Panther Story
by Loran Wlodarski illustrated by Lew Clayton
Felina the Florida panther loved growing up in her forest home, until the forest starts to shrink! Trees begin to disappear, and Felina doesn’t understand the new busy highway in the neighborhood. Other animals are in danger, too. Will Felina find a way to survive as humans threaten to ruin her home? Environmental science writer Loran Wlodarski gives children a look into deforestation and endangered animals in Felina’s New Home: A Florida Panther Story, complemented by the detailed, emotive illustrations of Lew Clayton. Learn whether the animals in Felina’s forest adapt to the new human presence and what children can do to keep wild animals safe, happy, and healthy.
Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean
By Gail Langer Karwoski illustrated by Connie McLennan
Tuck your little ones into bed with this soothing, restful story. How do marine mammals – animals that breathe air – sleep in the deep waters of the ocean? Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean answers this question. Youngsters meet ten marine mammals, including sea otters and bottlenose dolphins, manatees and harbor seals, humpback whales and walruses, and learn about each animal’s unique habits. Although the brief portraits are based on up-to-date scientific research, author Gail Langer Karwoski weaves the facts into simple, poetic language. Connie McLennan’s rich oil paintings capture the ocean’s habitats and its appealing creatures. The story invites children to drift into a peaceful sleep on the gentle waves of imagination.