Chapter Four: Mermaids & Manatees: In Which we meet Jenny Hannivers, Mermen and their Wives, Sirenians, and other Anthropomorphistic Creatures of the Sea, Subsequently Revealed to be Humble and Harmless.
If any “sea monster” turned out to be real, I would hope for the existence of mermaids. When I was a little girl, I used to swim around the bottom of the pool and pretend I had a mermaid’s tail instead of legs. I though it an absolute tragedy that Disney’s Ariel was lucky enough to be a mermaid but spent all her time wishing she was a human!
Most of this chapter shows the mermaid’s transformation from the sexually attractive but deadly siren to the now beloved and harmless manatee. It’s hard to imagine the sirens that attacked Odysseus and his crew turned out to be harmless sea cows, but Monsters of the Sea proves just that.
Ellis also uses this chapter to introduce the reader to a creature related to the manatee called a dugong. This animal was the obvious inspiration for the Pokemon Dewgong. This section taught me that there is such a thing as a “sirenologist” – a person who studies mermaids. Another interesting fact I learned here is that Florida manatees have fingernails but no fingers.
Chapter Four ends with the world’s most loved mermaid, Ariel. In fact, the most photographed statue in the entire world is the statue of Hans Christian Anderson’s “Little Mermaid” in Copenhagen, Denmark.