been spotted. Mermaids are also quite ancient creatures; Phoenician sailors reported sighting these creatures. The point being that if so many sailors and inhabitants of coastal cities around the world and through time believe they saw a hybrid species of woman and fish, surely there must be something to it.
The most likely witness to mermaids and assorted mer-creatures throughout history have been sailors. Seeing as how you must have some proximity to the sea to come into contact with a mermaid, it only makes sense that seagoing men (historically speaking, most people who took to the sea were male) would be the primary character witnesses to the concept of the reality of mermaids. This presents a few very significant problems in determining the reality of mermaids having a tail firmly planted in reality. The first thing to remember is that the deck of a ship, especially ships from centuries ago, were pretty high and far away from the water. Looking down into the murky depths that far below you could quite easily lead to mistakes in perception. Then you have to add in the fact that being out at sea for days, weeks or even months, especially if you were in the tropics, doubtlessly baked that perceptual dysfunction so that it rose like a soufflé, just waiting to be popped. Another element that must be taken into consideration is the fact that most sailors away at sea would probably have done anything to get some quality time with the kind of woman who swims bare-breasted, even if she did have the unfortunate physical impairment of a fish’s tail. Finally, of course, one must certainly take into account the effects of serious consumption of rum, wine, and beer that would make all of the above even more ill-suited to the task of determining whether what was beneath surface of the water was a woman or…a manatee.
Manatees belong to part of the animal order known as sirenia. The derivation of this name traces back to the mythological Sirens whose hypnotic songs would cause sailors to crash their ships into the rocks off the shore. Somehow over time mermaids, Sirens and manatees all crashed onto the rocks of mythological mash-up. One very common explanation for mermaid sightings is that what these sailors actually saw were manatees. This explanation has one singular, though not overwhelming, flaw. Anyone who takes even a casual glance at a manatee could never possibly confuse it with a bare-breasted woman with the tail of a fish. Okay, maybe the fishtail part, but no artistic representative of a mermaid ever featured a woman’s face as ugly as it would have to be if the manatee were what these sailors saw. The reason that the manatee theory cannot entirely be dismissed as explanation behind whether mermaids are real or not depends upon entirely upon how much rum the sailor had consume, how high the deck, how dark the water, how hot the sun and how long he had been at sea.
A much better explanation than manatees being what sailors confused as manatees is that mermaids do, in fact, exist.