So, before I launch into my very long Worldcon post, here's a question to ponder while I type that monstrosity out: Why are sea mammals underutilized in science fiction books?
Yes, there are books about dolphins (although the only one I can think of at the moment is THE DOLPHINS OF PERN by Anne McCaffrey), and there are even books with whale-like creatures in them (STORYTELLER by Amy Thomson). But as far as I can tell, there are no books in which manatees play a pivotal role. Yet, the NY Times reports today that manatees are much more intelligent than was previously thought. I personally like manatees; I love cetaceans too, but there's no denying that they're often given much more attention than manatees and dugongs.
So one would think that the new findings on manatees might inspire a nice new SF story or novel or two...
I particularly like this quote from the article:
"Either these things have nothing to do with the hair at all, or the more exciting possibility is that perhaps somatic sensation is so important that the specialized structure is overlapping with processing going on in auditory areas,” Dr. Reep said.
I'd also like to add that Buffet the manatee has better vision than I do without my glasses or contacts... (I'm 20/600 and blind as the proverbial bat).