You know the story of Christopher Columbus, “in 1492 he sailed the ocean blue” in search of a new route to the Far East. He left Spain in early August and by early October they spotted land which turned out to be the Bahamas. They explored five islands in the Bahamas before moving on to Cuba where Columbus thought he had finally reached China. He sent two men looking for the Emperor of China, but never found him.

After several more weeks of exploring Columbus and his men headed back to Spain and according to the History Channel it was near the Dominican Republic that Columbus spotted what he thought were three mermaids. In reality they were manatees. You have an idea of what a mermaid is – a beautiful woman with a fishtail instead of legs. Maybe he was drunk, or he’d been at sea too long but it’s hard to confuse a mermaid with a manatee.

 

Adult manatees can be 10 to 12 feet long and weigh between 800 and 1,200 pounds. They live 50 to 60 years and have no natural predators. They have a slow metabolism, they eat only plants and can survive in only warm water. Most of the manatees in this country are in Florida. Many of them are injured or killed each year in collisions with boats.

 

He never did find a new passage to China, but it was on this date in 1493 that Columbus did make a discovery, some overweight mermaids in the Caribbean.