This week we're in search of the mysterious, mystical manatee. This lovely animal was quite a sex symbol in its day. Indeed, the manatee's aura of glamour illuminates a very special ante room of natural history (it has its own odour too, as well as an aura, though that hardly smacks of glamour).
The manatee is a refreshing thing to contemplate these days. It makes a pleasant change from Cheryl Cole, as Ashley texted to Sonia Wild. Not that Ashley is quite a paragon. The manatee can understand discrimination tasks, and it displays complex associated learning and advanced long-term memory. Can we say the same for silly little Ashley, I wonder?
A manatee is also much more interesting than Tiger Woods, although he could be said to be a man-at-tee. Well, maybe not recently, but you know what I mean.
The manatee is of the species order Syrenia. The dugong is another of these. The dugong's glory is its fluked tail, but it cannot match the prehensile upper-lip of the manatee, who is largely herbivorous, though manatees have been known to eat small amounts of fish from nets (how they construct their nets is one of the great mysteries of the natural world).
A manatee is a placid creature and would make an ideal dinner guest for submarine diners seeking a quiet and attentive companion.
there's no vanity
in a manatee
and you can't go wrong
with a dugong
but Ashley Cole
is a narcissistic little arsehole
It was basking manatees who were mistaken for mermaids by desperate sailors of yore. What it was that reminded these men of the ladies they had left behind in Rio, Shanghai or Eastbourne, I hesitate to hazard a guess, though it was most likely something to do with their voices, or the smell.
Jolly Jack Tars went all too far,
Barnacle Bill was sent over the hill,
and Men-o-War were all at sea
about the humble manatee.
Is it just me, or are dolphins really irritating? Why don't they just piss off? Maybe one day they'll learn. Perhaps even they will attain the zen-like serenity of the mysterious, mystical manatee?
The Dolphin seems a charming thing.
But it's just a manatee
And finally (sigh). The Phil Spector-produced Crystals hit 'Da Doo Ron Ron' was penned by dugong-fancier Jeff Barry. The idea for the lyric came when he and a transgendered friend, Hilda, were dugong-watching off Moreton Bay, Australia. They spotted a particularly fine specimen and were about to photograph it, when Barry noticed that the film had run out. He went down into the cabin, changed the reel, and returned to the deck, only to be met with the following words from Hilda: "the dugong's gone, Ron, the dugong's gone!" (Ron being the pet name she used for all her male and female friends.) Barry immortalised the experience in his song.
So let us leave the mysterious, mystical manatee to his wonderful way of life, whose serenity is surely a lesson to us all.
Next week: the Eohippus