The Day Christopher Columbus Saw Three Mermaids While Sailing Near The Dominican Republic

Here at I’m A Useless Info Junkie, we usually give answers to timeless questions such as Why Do Most Superheroes Wear Their Underwear On The Outside? or Why Michael Jackson Always Taped The Tips Of His Fingers And Wore White Socks?

But sometimes we just talk about interesting stories such as The Time Albert Einstein Asked Marie Curie A Letter Of Recommendation To Secure A Job or The Story Behind Alexander The Great’s Drinking Contest That Killed All 42 Contestants. Well, today we look at yet another story of this kind: the time Christopher Columbus saw three mermaids.

Here’s the bizarre story. (the article continues after the ad)

On January 09, 1493, the famous Italian explorer was sailing near the Dominican Republic. It was Columbus’ second voyage. While he was travelling on the Atlantic Ocean, he observed some very strange creatures, similar to what he previously saw off the coast of West Africa: mermaids.

In his journal, Columbus describes the mermaids as “not half as beautiful as they are painted” although they had “a human appearance in the face.” He then goes on to describe the way they elevated themselves above the sea’s surface. Little did he know that his encounter was actually the first ever written record of manatees (sea cows) in North America.

By the way, if you don’t know what a sea cow is, here’s what Columbus saw:

Photo: Creative Commons

Of course, this may sound weird to us today, but living in a world in which mermaid mythology was quite common, sometimes makes people see them in real life. Yes, it does seem strange to confuse a thick, slow-moving sea cow with a beautiful maiden but even today, when Animal Plant aired a fake documentary in 2013 on mermaids, people were calling in to report seeing this mythical half-female, half-fish creature. Some were calling the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to ask for the truth about mermaids (the truth of course, is that mermaids are just folklore characters and are entirely fictional).

So yes, Columbus was clever enough to use a lunar eclipse to save himself and the people of his crew from starvation but even he believed seeing mythological creatures.

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: The Unbelievable Story Of How A Lunar Eclipse Saved Christopher Columbu’s Life 



Photo: Creative CommonsCreative Commons
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: Columbus mistakes manatees for mermaids | From Mermaids to Manatees: the Myth and the Reality | Did Columbus really see mermaids? | Mermaids Are Real: Columbus, Shakespeare, and Pliny the Elder

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