"This is marketing, this is what we do."
It was the perfect April Fool's Day prank for the age of the hashtag.
Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, the agency that markets the Pinellas beaches to the world, sent out a press release Tuesday at 6 a.m. claiming that "officials have confirmed the sighting of a rare marine mammal off the coast of St. Pete/Clearwater last week."
The creature was a "combination dolphin/manatee." Scientists had believed the "manaphin" to be "long-extinct." Long-extinct perhaps, but not unprepared. The mammal already had its own website: www.manaphin.com.
Some folks actually fell for it. An Orlando shock jock. A reporter from Chicago.
Tourism officials were playing more than a just a prank.
Read more at the Tampa Bay Times.