Our fascination with these mythical sea-dwelling creatures dates back for thousands of years and spans cultures across the world from coastal settlements in Ireland to landlocked Zimbabwe in Africa.
Mermaids are often depicted as having the head and body of a woman with a fish tail below the waist instead of legs and having a siren-like voice.
According to folklore Mermaids can live up to 300 years and will turn to foam on the surface of the water once they’re dead.
In most cultures, mermaids are believed to be beautiful but are also imagined as dangerous creatures who lure sailors to their deaths with their trance-like singing.
Mermaids are often blamed for perilous water events such as floods, storms, drownings, and shipwrecks. Some folklore tells of them being benevolent souls who bestow favors to humans and are even known to fall in love with them.
The belief in mermaids may have arisen at the very dawn of our species. Mystical female figures first appear in cave paintings in the late Paleolithic period some 30,000 years ago, a time when humans had gained dominion over the land and began to sail the seas.
There are many accounts of mermaids in cultures and folklore from around the world and throughout time.
One of the most famous accounts of mermaids can be found in ancient Greek mythology. In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus encounters a beautiful woman on his journey home from Troy. The creatures in The Odyssey are called Sirens, alluring creatures who sing beautiful songs to sailors passing by that eventually cause the men to go insane, driving them to their deaths by drowning.
Christopher Columbus claimed to have seen mermaids during his exploration of the Caribbean Sea.
Mermaids appear in British folklore as unlucky omens, both foretelling disaster and provoking it.
In Korea, a peninsula located in the easternmost part of the Asia, mysterious stories about mermaids are told. One tale speaks of a mermaid named Sinji who warns fishermen of impending storms by singing and throwing rocks into the sea. Some coastal villagers believe she is a sea goddess who predicts the weather.
In some parts of Eastern Europe, mermaids are believed to be the restless spirits of the unclean dead. They appear as the ghosts of young women who died a violent or untimely death before their wedding, either by murder or suicide, usually by drowning.
In the ancient Far East, mermaids were thought to be the wives of powerful sea dragons and served as trusted messengers between their spouses and the emperors on land.
A mermaid tale wouldn’t be complete without mentioning PT Barnum’s Feejee mermaid. PT Barnum was an American showman, businessman, and politician, mostly well known for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus. He claimed to have a stuffed body of a mermaid he bought from an American captain named Samuel Eadesa who salvaged the item from a sinking Dutch merchant ship. Barnum's admirable marketing skills created great hype over his NYC exhibition in 1872 and was a great success. However, the stuffed mermaid has since been debunked as a hoax.
Over time, mermaids have been depicted in operas, paintings, books, comics, animation, and live-action films.
One of the most popular mermaid stories is The Little Mermaid. A literary fairy tale was written by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. The story was first published in 1837 as part of a collection of fairy tales for children. The tale follows the journey of a young mermaid, willing to give up her life in the sea as a mermaid in exchange for a human soul.
The Little Mermaid movie released in 1989 is an American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney and was inspired by Andersen’s fairy tale.
Although the evidence for mermaids is not conclusive, it is compelling.
Stories of people who have seen mermaids continue to the present day.
In August 2009 along the Mediterranean coast of Northern Israel, dozens of people reported seeing a mermaid leaping out of Haifa Bay. It cause such a stir, that a local Israeli coastal town offered a 1 million dollar reward for proof of their existence.
In February 2012, work on two reservoirs in Zimbabwe stopped. Workers refused to continue, claiming mermaids had chased them away from the sites in their culture some believe mermaids are to blame for unexpected misfortunes, such as bad weather or the sudden disappearance of people. This incident was reported by the water resources minister.
So we’ve established legends of mermaids have been around for thousands of years, but are mermaids real?
The US government’s official stance is: No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Oftentimes, manatees are thought to be mistaken for mermaids. But I had to find out for myself. So I set off on a search to uncover the truth about mermaids.
And headed to the beach. Not only to search for evidence of mermaids but to get some much-needed vitamin sea. 🙂
I combed the shoreline looking for anything that might indicate the presence of mermaids. I didn't find anything but kept on with my search. This time, I went by speedboat. I thought going further into the ocean I might come across a mermaid, or even just glimpse one.
I reached the high seas and all I saw were a pod of dolphins. Although not mermaids, I still felt lucky and blessed to see those beautiful sea animals.
I anchored on a deserted island and again combed the shoreline searching for evidence of mermaids. I found no evidence but did see the amazing dolphins again. The sun was setting so I headed home.
The next day, not wanting to leave any shell unturned, I went kayaking. I thought maybe the noise from the speed boat’s engine scared away any mermaids who could be swimming nearby and hoped the quiet paddling of the kayaks would entice a visit by a friendly mermaid.
I paddled all around, through the mangroves, and into the beautiful nearby spring. All I saw were fish. I even paddled to a cove where I saw manatees. All were amazing sea animals, but still not mermaids.
The next day, determined in my quest for truth, I decided to get a different perspective of the sea and rented a helicopter. Looking down over the expansive view of the ocean, I thought, just maybe, I would see a mermaid swimming in the water.
I saw sharks, stingrays, more manatees, and dolphins. But no mermaids.
The pilot, sympathetic to my quest, offered to take me to an uncharted mysterious island, the coordinates handed down by word of mouth through his father—and were top secret! There, he said, the locals openly talk of the beautiful and benevolent women of the sea. It’s a place where the folklore of the majestic creatures is passed down through the generations.
We landed and once again I searched the shoreline for evidence of mermaids, certain they often visited this amazing island. I didn't find anything, so I followed the pilot's instructions and headed inland to chat with the secretive islanders, hoping they would open up to me.
I found the local's meeting hut and went inside. I let out a sigh of relief when they immediately opened up to me. While chatting with the seafaring locals, I learned there were steps that needed to be taken in order to attract a mermaid. I promised I would share with them any evidence I found and jumped into the helicopter and rushed home.
The islanders had told me mermaids like shiny trinkets, sea shells, and jewelry. So I quickly collected the items from around my house and headed back to the beach.
I displayed the alluring items on rocks by the water. Then, blew music from the closest shell I had to a conch shell (which is the mermaid’s preferred sound). I wished upon a starfish that would attract a mermaid,
Want to know what happened next? Did I find evidence of mermaids? Did I… see a mermaid? 👀 Talk to one? Find out by watching my entire journey by watching the Mermaid Tales video on YouTube for FREE right NOW! 🙂