November is Manatee Awareness Month

Manatees are large marine mammals that inhabit shallow rivers, canals, saltwater bays, and coastal areas. A migratory species, they spend their winters in the Florida waters and move as far north as Massachusetts and as far west as Texas during the summers.

manatee

A bit of history

In his first journey to the Americas, Christopher Columbus caught glimpses of three sea creatures he first believed to be mermaids but had some doubts. He wrote in his journal: “…distinctly saw three mermaids which rose well out of the sea; but they are not so beautiful as they are said to be, for their faces had some masculine traits.”

Manatees must surface to breathe air. They are known to rise out of the sea like the alluring sirens of Greek mythology and often perform “tail stands” in shallow water. From a distance, they could be mistaken for humans. Their forelimbs contain five sets of finger-like bones, and their neck vertebrae allows them to turn their heads.

Interesting manatee facts

Manatees have a higher gray matter to white matter ratio in their brains than any other mammal known, including humans.

Primarily herbivores, manatees can consume fifteen to twenty percent of their body weight in vegetation daily.

While manatees can travel up to 20 miles per hour in short bursts, they usually travel three to five miles per hour. Along the coast, they travel in water that is 10 to 16 feet deep and they are rarely seen in areas over 20 feet deep.

Manatees are not sexually mature until they are about five years old. During breeding, a single female (cow) will be followed by a dozen or more males (bulls), forming a “mating herd.” The gestation period is about a year and mothers nurse their young for one to two years.

They have a lifespan of about 60 years with no known natural enemies. A certain percentage of manatee mortality can be attributed to natural causes such as cold stress, gastrointestinal disease, pneumonia, and other diseases.

Sources of danger

In the past, manatees were exploited for their meat, fat, and hides. But the most significant challenge faced today is the loss of habitat. Increased coastal development and poaching have significantly reduced the size of the manatee population. Experts believe that pollution in these areas may also have an effect on manatee mortality, as chemicals introduced into their habitats can lead to impaired immune systems.

A high number of manatee deaths result from collisions with boats when the mammals are surfacing for air. They are not fast enough to elude the boat propellers and suffer from fatal gashes. Other accidents include entanglement in crab trap lines and ingestion of fish hooks and litter.

Important dates for manatees

1893 – Florida is declared a manatee sanctuary and manatee hunting is illegal.

1907 – Law is revised to impose a fine of $500 and/or six months of jail time for molesting or killing a manatee.

1966 – The manatee became one of 78 original species listed in the Endangered Species Preservation Act.

1972 – The manatee was designated a marine mammal protected under the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. This act prevented the removal of any marine mammal and imposed a fine of up to $2000 and/or one year in jail.

1973 – The Endangered Species Preservation Act was revised to increase federal protection of manatees.

1976 – Sea World of Florida began a Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Program.

1978 – The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act amended the 1907 state law. Florida became an official refuge and sanctuary for the marine mammals. The regulation of boat speeds in areas of manatee inhabitation was now allowed.

1979 – Florida Governor Bob Graham established the first state-designated protection zones and made November Manatee Awareness Month.

1980 – Congress allocated $100,000 to the Marine Mammal Commission and the development of the initial Federal Manatee Recovery Plan.

1981 – Bob Graham and Jimmy Buffett formed the Save the Mantee Committee, the precursor of the Save the Manatee Club, which sought to protect manatees and their habitats.

1996 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revised the Manatee Recovery Plan Objectives to include the following: assess and minimize causes of manatee mortality and injury, protect essential habitat, determine and monitor the status of the manatee population, coordinate and oversee cooperative recovery work.

Learn more about the Save the Manatee Club’s mission here.


Loving These Mermaid Tips

Shortly after starting the Mondays for Mermaids series, I set up a Google alert for “mermaids.” Each day, I receive links to the latest mermaid posts or events. I have used some of the information and have bookmarked links for future reference. But when I received the link to Kayleigh Dray’s post, “23 Tips for the Ultimate Little Mermaid Wedding,” I couldn’t resist sharing.

Not to worry if wedding bells are in the distant future (or past). You can incorporate many of these tips into your next special event.

Visit the post here.

Here’s a sneak peek at three of my favorites…

manicureplacesettingweddingbreakfast


Mermaid Humor

While fishing, three men catch a mermaid who begs to be set free in return for granting each of them a wish.

The first man shakes his head and says, “Okay, if you can really grant wishes, then double my IQ.”

The mermaid says, “Done.”

Suddenly, the man starts reciting Shakespeare flawlessly.

The second man is so amazed, he says to the mermaid, “Triple my IQ.”

The mermaid says, “Done.”

The man starts to spout out all the mathematical solutions to problems that have been stumping the scientists.

Impressed, the third man decides to one-up his friends. “Quintuple my IQ.”

The mermaid looks at him and says, “You know, I don’t usually try to change people’s minds when they make a wish, but I really wish that you would reconsider.”

The man is adamant. “No, I want you to increase my IQ times five, and if you don’t do it, I won’t set you free.”

“Please,” says the mermaid, “You don’t understand what you’re asking, it will change your entire view on the universe. Won’t you ask for something else….a million dollars, anything?”

But no matter what the mermaid said, the third man insisted on having his IQ increased by five times its usual power. So the mermaid sighed and said, “Done.”

And the third man is transformed into a woman.

10396963_s

A Mermaid Hoax

barnummermaidIn 1842, Phineas Barnum obtained a dead mermaid from the estate of a dead sailor who had purchased it from Japanese sailors. The sailors had captured the mermaid near the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific.

Intrigued, Barnum visited a naturalist who quickly dismissed the find, claiming that “he never knew a monkey with such peculiar teeth, arms, hands nor had he knowledge of a fish with such peculiar fins.”

The following conversation took place:

Barnum: “Then why do you suppose it is manufactured?”

Naturalist: “Because I don’t believe in mermaids.”

Barnum: “That is no reason at all, and therefore I’ll believe in the mermaid and hire it.” Barnum displayed the mermaid in his Museum in New York and attracted large crowds and media attention.

The controversy continued in the New York Sun where the following review appeared:

“We’ve seen it! What? Why that Mermaid! The mischief you have! Where? What is it? It’s a twin sister to the deucedest looking thing imaginable—half fish, half flesh; and taken by and large, the most odd of all oddities earth or sea has ever produced.”

Unfortunately, the mermaid was destroyed in a fire. Many replicas of the Fiji Mermaid (also called Feejee Mermaid) were created by sewing the head and torso of a juvenile monkey to the back half of a fish. These “mermaids” were common features of sideshows.


TEDx Talk with a Mermaid

Fascinated by mermaids since childhood, Hannah Fraser created her first tail when she was nine years old. She now creates exquisite mermaid tails and travels the world performing underwater as a mermaid for film, television, and environmental activism.

Here is her story:

10 Interesting Facts About The Little Mermaid

In 1989, Walt Disney Productions released The Little Mermaid, an animated film based upon the fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen. The worldwide response was an overwhelming one. The film has grossed over $200 million worldwide and has been credited with launching the Disney Renaissance, an era that breathed life back into the animated feature film genre.

thelittlemermaid

Here are 10 interesting facts about this popular film:

1. In designing heroine Ariel, the animators were inspired by the body of Alyssa Milano (Who’s The Boss? star) and the hair of astronaut Sally Ride. Ariel’s underwater hair sequence was based on a video of Sally’s hair as she traveled in zero gravity.

2. To avoid confusion with Daryl Hannah’s mermaid in Splash, the animators decided to make Ariel a redhead.

3. The voice actor for Prince Eric was sixteen-year-old Christoper Daniel Barnes.

4. The villain Ursula was designed to resemble Madame Medusa from “The Rescuers” and cinema drag queen Divine, best known for his roles in Pink Flamingos and Hairspray.

5. Originally, the producer asked Bea Arthur to play Ursula, but she dropped out of the film because of “Golden Girls” conflicts. Rosanne Barr and Nancy Wilson were also considered until Elaine Stritch was cast. Unfortunately, Elaine proved incompatible and was replaced by Pat Carroll.

6. Patrick Stewart was offered the role of King Triton but had to turn it down because he was too busy with “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Kenneth Mars was cast in the role.

7. Jodi Benson recorded “Part of Your World” with the studio lights turned low to simulate the feeling of being underwater. This classic Disney tune was almost cut from the film because the director thought the song was too boring.

8. In the opening scene with King Triton, Micky Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and Kermit the Frog appear in the crowd of sea-people.

9. During Eric and Ariel’s wedding scene, the Grand Duke and King from Disney’s Cinderella can be seen in the background.

10. The directors insisted that every bubble in the movie be hand-drawn, not Xeroxed. Animator Mark Dindal estimated that he and his colleagues had to draw a million bubbles.

Mermaids in Halifax

In an earlier post, several visitors commented that I was seeing mermaids everywhere. But I didn’t have to look too far to discover this week’s topic. Earlier this month, my local newspaper (Guelph Mercury) featured the following article: “Mermaids making a splash.”

Guelph Mercury - September 5, 2015

Guelph Mercury – September 5, 2015


Here are some highlights…

Mermaid Raina a.k.a. Stephanie Brown is the co-founder of Halifax Mermaids, a company that employs mermaids to provide environmental education. Wearing realistic tails and shell hairpieces, the mermaids perform at birthday parties, sandcastle festivals, and workshops at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

In addition to entertaining their enthusiastic audiences, the mermaids teach children about the ocean food chain, microplastic pollution, and the importance of recycling. Learning about the ocean and empowering people toward change are the primary goals of this fast-growing, one-year-old company.

To keep up with demand, the founders applied for and obtained a $10,000 small business grant. This extra funding will be used to hire more mermaids and book more events. They also plan to purchase a mobile tank that will allow them to travel across Canada.

About Stephanie…

In 2007, Stephanie decided to combine her education in child and youth development and her love of mermaids and launch a career as an independent mermaid. An excellent choice that has enabled Stephanie to keep in shape and manage her chronic illness and pain.

Having experienced a difficult childhood and benefitted from such programs as Make-A-Wish, Stephanie pays it forward by visiting sick children in hospitals. During these visits, she wears her tail and uses a wheelchair to make her rounds.