Those Sexy Manatees

How drunk and lonely must seamen of yore have been to have confused manatees for mermaids? I suppose being out at sea for months on end, high with scurvy and desperate for female accompaniment would make even the dread pirate Bloodbeard look downright feminine. But the manatee, an animal affectionately known as the sea cow, does not look like Daryl Hannah at all to me.

Manatees are probably nature’s most gentle creatures. So perhaps the old mariners weren’t as superficial as I am. They were searching for a nurturing mermaid, not necessarily a shapely one. And I for one am always excited to see the big gray marshmallow of a marine animal. As a child this was a regular event, but just the other day as I ran along the Key Biscayne beach I could see one peering out of the water ten yards from the shore.

The manatee brings people together. A crowd stood on this weekday afternoon to watch the water behemoth not do much at all. Their presence alone brings smiles to anyone’s face and seem like a monumental enough event so that when someone asks you, “What did you do today?” and you answer “I saw a manatee.” It kind of blows the story they wanted to tell you of their day into the realm of insignificance.

But manatees aren’t all sunshine and rainbows to me. They also bring back traumatic memories. Public service announcements that played during cartoons in the eighties on Miami local television stations warned you to watch out for manatees when you were on your boat. Apparently there was an epidemic of boat propellers mutilating the backs of swimming manatees. But were Scooby Doo episodes the right time to advertise this important message? As a six year old I did not have the keys to a motor boat, but I did have a traumatized subconscious littered with images of manatee scar tissue floating to the surface.

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3 responses to “Those Sexy Manatees”

  1. Jason R. Thrift says :

    I thought it was the Dread Pirate Roberts? Or Blackbeard?

    Anyway, there’s lots of legends out there that truly make no sense at all when it comes to the sea, but are fun to indulge in. For instance, Sirens. Yet another group of carnivorous females willing to eat any a sailor lured in by their delightful tune. Suffice it to say, sailors back then got REALLY lonely, as you already pointed out.

    So lonely, in fact, that they were willing to be devoured by a female just for the brief chance to see one in their own minds.

    Or how about the legend of the Flying Dutchman, the REAL legend, not the Pirates of the Caribbean version. The real legend is much more mysterious, and realistic than anything Hollywood concocts, although probably not as much fun. So interesting, in fact, it made a spot in my most recent book in the Loopingthrutime Trilogy, still set to come out. Have to look for it.

  2. Jason R. Thrift says :

    Sorry, had to continue with a separate one. Your comments box is possessed! But as interesting as these legends are, they don’t hold a candle to the myth of the media being our friend.

    Case in point, you seeing a horrific display of manatee slaughter in a commercial during Scooby-Doo. Why? What would any 6-year-old gain from that except pure, unadulterated fear? What’s funny to me is that they show you something like THAT during Scooby-Doo, but cut out the parts of Wyle Coyote being blown up during Saturday morning cartoons for fear it would promote violence??? Reality shows promote violence and stupidity. Game shows make you delusional. Regular TV shows make you only think about sex, such as Soap Operas, Desperate Housewives. Lifetime Movie Network is just plain THE DEVIL. And the News…that makes you want to kill yourself!

    But make sure we all make a 6-year-old understand to not drive a boat over a manatee. It might prompt the next Free Willy-esque film, Manatee On Fire. In this case, a 6-year-old saves a group of manatees from a burning oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, before a category 5 hurricane hits and wipes out the coast. And the kids big line when asked what he was thinking when he wanted to save the manatees, “I think I need a bigger boat, Kevin Costner, and James Cameron.”

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