Mermaids have been a persistent part of human imagining in a huge variety of cultures for at least the last 3,000 years. But are these strange creatures, half-human and half-fish, entirely mythical? Is there a grain of truth to the many mermaid stories, or are they just a collection of fishy tales? Read on for 10 reports of mermaids from across the ages and decide what you think.
10. Christopher Columbus
In 1492, the great explorer and navigator Christopher Columbus set off westward from Spain to try and find a new trade route to the riches of Asia. In fact, his expedition ended up in the Americas. It was the next year that he reported sighting a mermaid off the coast of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
Columbus wrote in his journal that three “female forms” were spotted and that “they rose high out of the sea, but were not as beautiful as they are represented.” At the time, the existence of mermaids was widely accepted. But now modern researchers believe that the creatures that Columbus saw were most likely manatees, an animal that Columbus probably had no knowledge of.