Manatees likely spawned many mermaid myths and Florida is a likely location for such a spawning. The original Native American tribes of Florida were generally wiped out and the myths along with it, so I’ve borrowed Brazilian mythology.
Iara Rennó, the musical artist, is totally tied into manatee mythology – her first name comes from the mythical water queen ( manatee-mermaid combo) and the Brazilian movie classic, Macunaíma, the Iara kills the hero. The Iara appears as an almost perfect woman, she has an extra hole, a blowhole on the back of her neck but she’s much like the Greek siren – she just wants to lure you into her trap. Wikipedia compare the Iara to the Native American Deer Woman of North America, so borrowing the myth for Florida seem reasonable and I’ll consider alluding to the Iara, in my third novel.
I mentioned the original tribes of Florida were generally wiped out, but not totally because I exist and my Native American ancestor had a Spanish name; thus, a likely member of one of the original tribes. The Seminoles are foreign invaders who help wipe out my ancestor’s tribe and they currently steal my ancestor’s bones. Damn foreigners!