During one of his many expeditions to the New World on behalf of the Spanish Empire, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus mistakenly saw three “mermaids” near the Dominican Republic on this day in 1493. In fact, the creatures Columbus observed more than 500 years ago were not the fabled half-human, half-fish animals from ancient Greek folklore, but the adorable aquatic mammal known as the manatee. Commenting on their physical appearance in his private journals, Columbus remarked that the alleged mermaids were “not half as beautiful as they are painted.” This finding took place during one of Columbus’ four voyages to the America sponsored by the King of Spain, searching for a western trade route to Asia. Columbus may not have found the mythical mermaid, but he is largely credited with discovering the Americas and opening up the New World to European colonization.
“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” —