It’s hard to believe anyone could mistake a chubby, gray, bewhiskered manatee for a mermaid, but it’s thought the so-called sea cows may have been the source of the mermaid myth.
These large mammals are sometimes spotted in Lake Pontchartrain and the freshwater rivers of the Northshore, although they stay close to the rivers’ mouths. They migrate to this area from Florida in the spring and leave before winter. If you spot one of these gentle herbivores, consider yourself lucky.
“There are maybe a dozen animals total in Lake Pontchartrain,” but probably fewer, says Gary Lester, biologist manager with the Wildlife and Fisheries’ Natural Heritage Program. “It’s hard to judge, because we’ll get 25 calls coming in for the same animal.”