Ahoy me hearties! ‘Tis I, back again from the briny deep. Me spyglass has been focused lately on Florida’s favorite aquatic mammal: Shamu the manatee.

Seems at least one of the slow-moving “sea cows,” which usually make their home off the Florida coast, has traveled all the way up to Cape Cod. Another manatee (or perhaps the same one) was spotted in the Hudson River two weeks ago.

Says one wildlife biologist, “It’s, to our knowledge, the northernmost sighting of a manatee ever documented.” Researchers aren’t sure why the animal went so far north, but suspect it’s because waters in that area have been unusually warm. Could this be global warming related? Will manatees soon be dodging boat motors off Nova Scotia?

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Interestingly, and related to this discussion on the intelligence of dolphins being called into question, one biologist has recently declared that manatees are actually much smarter than we once thought.

Far from being slow learners, manatees, it turns out, are as adept at experimental tasks as dolphins, though they are slower-moving and, having no taste for fish, more difficult to motivate.

Blimey! I had no idea. Here’s another surprising fact: It’s widely believed that manatees are the inspiration for the myth of the mermaid, as sailors may have mistaken the animals — which can weigh in excess of 2,000 lbs. — for the half-fish, half-human creatures. Me, I don’t see the resemblance … but maybe that’s the eyepatch talkin’. Har har arrrr …

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