It is sometimes said that manatees gave rise to the stories of mermaids. The only basis for this is that Christopher Columbus noted in his journal, for January 1493, that when off the coast of Haiti he saw three mermaids that rose well out of the water. His opinion of them was that they were not as beautiful as they had been painted although to some extent their faces were quite human.
Later Columbus realized they were manatees, which he had probably met before on the coast of West Africa. They are reputed to be one of the worst-tasting sea creatures to have ever been eaten. Despite this, they were fed to slaves on plantations in the West Indies.Read More: Conservation