The Florida Sirens
The official name of the Florida Manatee is Trichechus manatus latirostris. The place that has played an important role to introduce this wonderful mammal to the public is Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida (see picture).* Here the warm water springs provide a refuge for manatees that migrate from the sea to the springs. People interested in their behavior are allowed to make pictures while snorkeling, but then need a permit from the manatee centre. Manatees are vulnerable slow moving creatures, easily disturbed by (too many) visitors or even hurt by motor boats.
Manatees are mammals that belong to the order of Sirenea. Which is derived from mermaids. It seems that Columbus when he spotted manatees along the coastline of America believed that what he saw were the legendary mermaids. It is said that the manatee is closely related to the elephant, with which they share a common ancestor. There are definitely some striking resemblances: the manatee is a vegetarian equipped with flexible muscular lips for ripping of vegetation like the elephants trunk. It has molar teeth that move forward in the mouth. A grey skin covered with sparse hairs, finger nails like the elephant toenails and a spherical shaped heart.
With no doubt the great expert and ‘mother’ of manatees is Carol Grant from Florida, who spends much of her time with these lovable creatures. In her own words: ‘ I have succumbed to the charms of the Florida Sirens’. And to take you to manatees you should depend op captain Stacey Dunn. See for more:
*There is now also the Manatee Lagoon at Palm Beach County were numerous manatees huddle in the warm-water outflows of Florida Power & Light Company’s (FPL) Riviera Beach Next Generation Clean Energy Center. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Manatee-Lagoon/1690469727906814