Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 17th, 2008
Various interviews I’ve had with St. Johns River and Lake Monroe area residents who remember the news reports from the 1950s still do feel that the reports were merely “Northern” tourists who saw unusual (but known) animals in the local waters. The number one candidate: manatee.
Manatees generally do stay below the surface, but have to come up for air, of course. Reflective of the lower population density in the 1950s, they may have been a rather surprising sight.
Some manatees do, also, have light gray to pinkish looking skin, in various light or water conditions.
There are five species of Sirenia, but scientists believe that there were many more in the past. Early forms of manatees are thought to have originated near the Amazon basin in South America. Some remained there to become the Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis), while others migrated up through the Caribbean, giving rise to the Antillean (Trichechus manatus manatus) and Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris). Another group managed to swim or were carried on currents across the Atlantic and became the West African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis).
Dugongs, known by the scientific name as Dugong dugong, are thought to have evolved along with manatees, and they once ranged from Europe to Africa, and along the east and west coasts of the Americas. At the present time, they are found only in the Eastern Hemisphere in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas), another species of Sirenia, [allegedly] became extinct in the 1700s. ~ Source.
Does part of the answer to Lake Monroe Monster, at least, rest with the manatee?
Go observe for yourself.
One of the best places to see manatees up close is Blue Springs State Park in Orange City, Florida. I highly recommend it.