More wrinkles than your oldest relative, gray skin and a lovely whiskered face - does this sound anything like a mermaid? Well, legend has it that sailors who believed they saw those mythical mermaids were actually seeing manatees!
These gentle giants, whose closest relative is the elephant, average about 10 feet long and usually weigh between 800 to 1,200 pounds. Despite their size, however, the manatees are in danger and their future remains uncertain. There are only about 2,600 manatees left in the United States and their numbers are dwindling faster than they can reproduce.
Scientists in Florida are conducting a wide range of research studies to help preserve the manatee. This season, Journey North students will have the opportunity to follow some of these studies, getting first-hand information directly from the scientists about habitat use, tracking data and the rehabilitation of manatees. They'll explore how weather and ocean and air temperatures affect the manatees, and also learn about the many threats that face manatees including human-related injuries from boats and pollution, and natural problems, too. They'll also learn about the unusual migrations of these gentle creatures. Someone once said that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" - will your students behold any mermaids?