In the Caribbean, mermaids were known as Aycayía. Her attributes relate to the goddess Jagua, and the hibiscus flower of the majagua tree Hibiscus tiliaceus.
When European sailors first made it to the Caribbean, they encountered an unknown creature that looked like a mermaid from the waist down. From the midsection up, they look more like cows. When sailors would spot them at night, perhaps in the moonlight, many thought they were gazing upon mermaids. The creatures were really manatees. Manatees are a large marine mammal with paddle like flippers. The name manti comes from the Caribbean word “manatoui”, which loosely translates to “furnished with hands” due to the rough hand-like use the creatures have with their fore-flippers.