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Editor’s note: We ran an article with this news earlier in the week, but Colleen sheds some additional light on the story!
Mermaids are the new Bigfoot. Much like Finding Bigfoot thrust sasquatches into the public eye, an Animal Planet show is making people question the existence of mermaids. There has been so much attention on the half-human, half-fish creatures that the government has had to make a statement on the subject, and dressing as a mermaid is gaining popularity and exposure.
Mermaids: The Body Found was a documentary-style film, but the filmmakers acknowledge it is science fiction. It’s hard to figure that out from Animal Planet’s press release on the show, which says the “film blends real life events and phenomena with the story of two scientists who testify they found the remains of a never-before-seen sea creature.” About two-thirds into the press release it states, “The film is science fiction, using science as a springboard into imagination and centering the story on … real-world events.” The show must have been pretty convincing for a “science docufiction” (as Wikipedia described it). The program first aired as part of Animal Planet’s “Monster Week” on May 27.
As a result of the program, viewers called the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to find out if mermaids were real. The NOAA released a statement on the mythical creatures calling them just that: mythical. In the statement available on the NOAA’s website, the government branch covers some of the background on mermaid legends and compares them to other half-human, half-animal creatures (or chimeras) like centaurs, satyrs, and minotaurs. So what is a brainy, scientific term for mermaids? The NOAA refers to them as “aquatic humanoids.”
Even though the NOAA is debunking the mermaid myth, this fiasco is drawing attention to people turning themselves into mermaids. A woman in British Columbia, Canada, has started a business of making mermaid tails that one can wear to swim. Monika Naumann was inspired to make the tails by her daughters’ love of mermaids. The girls wore the tails while on vacation and people wanted to know where the tails came from, so Naumann launched her company, 3-Fins, and sold the tails from a website. The tails are made of shiny dance fabric with lexan fins and retail for $250 Canadian.
Dressing up as a mermaid is already pretty popular. Mermaid-lovers gather annually for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, where they dress as the aquatic creatures and crown a Queen Mermaid and King Neptune. This year’s parade happened on June 23. If you want to see some professional mermaids, Weeki Wachee State Park in Weeki Wachee, Florida, offers live mermaid shows. Women who have excellent breath-holding skills swim in a giant tank dressed as mermaids to entertain the public.
While the live mermaid shows, parades, and tails all existed before Mermaids: The Body Found aired, they are all gaining extra exposure thanks to the program. The people who are dressing as mermaids liked the creatures of legend without seeing the proof/fiction combination that Animal Planet offered, but perhaps all of this attention will create some new fans of the mythical sirens.