Nearly three-quarters of Mother Earth is covered with water such as sea serpents and mermaids. No wonder, deep oceans features plenty of mythical creatures. Mermaids (half human and half fish creatures) are the iconic sea creatures recorded in the maritime cultures since time immemorial. They may be ancient in their existence, but they still exist in numerous forms even today including movies, films, books, and even Starbucks. It is said that these magical female figures first appeared in the cave paintings in the late stoneage near about 30,000 years ago. Even the sandstone caves in Egypt hold the oldest depictions of mermaids. Most of the cave walls feature human with tails, hunting with nets and spears.
The first myth of human size marine animals has originated around 1000 B.C. Stories tell the tale of Syrian goddess who jumped into the lake and converted into fish. However, her beauty could not change. Only her bottom half transformed into fish. Another story dated back to 1600s that claimed that a sea maiden has entered Holland via a dike and got injured. She was taken to a nearby lake, and she immediately turned healthy. After some time, she turned into a citizen.
Since then, numerous stories have appeared in folklore from different cultures around the globe including Asia, Europe, Africa, and East. All over history, many explorers have reported the glimpse of dugongs and manatees. The most popular was that of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. He claimed that she spotted these mythical creatures near Haiti in the year 1493. He declared that they are not as gorgeous as they depicted in the tales. Somehow they look like men. After a few researches, there are proves that confirms the existence of mermaids.
Places where you can see real mermaids
1. Tenshou Kyousha Shrine (Fujinomiya, Japan)
In Japan, these mermaids are not like the beautiful creatures as depicted in the Disney movies. They differ in their looks and often said to have pointed teeth and sometimes horns. They are claimed to have supernatural powers. In Ryuguji temple Fukuoka (Kyousha shrine), you can spot the bones of 13th-century ningyo. This temple is not only the holy place in Japan famous for mermaid bones, but you can also see the mermaid shrines in Japan at Fujinomiya (near Mount Fuji). The temple at Tenshou-Kyousha features a mermaid mummy to be over 1400 years old. As per the mythology, she first appeared to the local prince ad claimed that she was once a regular fisherman who was cursed after fishing in the protected water, so turned into a beast. The mermaid asked the prince to build shrine as a warning to other people.
2. Big Bend Power Plant Mantee Viewing Area (Apollo Beach, Florida)
One of the least expected sites to see real-life fish people were in the wastewater pools of Florida power plant. It is believed that the manatee glimpses inspire the myth of mermaid as sea crows floated beneath the sea waters. Heated wastewater from the facility drain out and creates a comfortable environment for the ugly creatures.
3. Feejee Mermaid at Nature Museum (Grafton, Vermount)
Nature Museum in VT houses many treasures like a handful of rooms, a human skull, animal specimens, and a Feejee mermaid. A Feejee mermaid is taxidermied chimeras that feature a fishtail and torso like that of a monkey. This ugly beast has all the signs of a Barnum-esque hybrid. As compared to other Feejee mermaids, it has a mustache. Although, it tough to say whether her facial hair is a gender indicator within the mermaid mythology. These relics originated in the island of East and sailors brought them back as souvenirs. The museum displayed her a decade ago from the Old Fellows Hall in VT.
4. Banff Merman (Banff, Canada)
Banff Merman is a taxidermy man-beast of seven seas. This Feejee-mermaid type Chimera located in the Canadian store was said to either have been obtained or actually made by the real owner of the store Norman Luxton. This ugly looking monster is far from the lovely merpeople of the legend.
5. Jeju Mermaids (Jeju-si, South Korea)
For centuries, the mermaids of Korea (Haenyo or Sea Women from Korea Island of Jeju have been diving into the ocean waters to make their living by harvesting conch, octopus, and abalone. These South Korean mermaids are actually the human women who are excellent fish divers. Although modern diving equipment is readily available nowadays, these Haenyeo ladies never used any breathing gear. During freediving, they hold their breath and usually dive 15 to 20 meters to catch all the diverse types of edible seafood. Sadly, this old practice is approaching extinction because young people are leaving the island for employment in the bigger cities. This has left only old ladies who decided to continue as Jeju mermaids.
6. Weeki Wachee (Week Wachee, Florida)
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida features underwater shows by the mermaids. Here you can see the Western version of sea maidens. Since 1947, small town Weeki Wachee has been the home to live mermaids where women wear glittering fish tails and jump into a vast aquarium fed by the natural spring. The president of the Little Berg is also the ex-performer from the city, thereby making Weeki Wachi the only city in the world to be governed by a mermaid.
7. The Little Mermaid (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Little Mermaid is a bronze statue made by Edvard Eriksen showing a mermaid becoming a human. This figure is displayed on a rock by the waterside at Langelinie promenade in Copenhagen. It was inspired by Hans Christian Anderson tale of a mermaid falling in love with the surface world.
Are Mermaids Mammal or Fish or Both?
Mermaids are both fish and mammals. These warm-blooded creatures have human-like breasts that give milk. They do not give live birth; instead, they lay eggs.
What do Mermaids Eat?
Mermaids the mythical creatures that live in water, so their mythical diet could be seafood like Lobster, crabs, fish, shrimp, oysters, and clams. However, many writers who wrote about these creatures have never unveiled what they eat. Since they live underwater, they are usually depicted to dwell in mythical sunken castles and caves.
Are Mermaids and Sirens the Same?
The stories of mermaids and sirens have inspired many poets, writers, and artists for millennia. Sirens and mermaids are portrayed as the same character. Sirens are always seen as sexually attractive mermaids, whose beauty and sexuality attracted men to their demise. Old people all across Europe believe birds were often graced with otherworldliness related to spirits, omens, and Gods. Initially, these two creatures were two separate myths.
Mermaids have been in the folklore since their first appearance in ancient Babylonian stories. The fish God was half fish and half man, and after that, it was Greek God Triton. It was Greeks who gave the first depictions of a mermaid. These sea creatures were said to have been examined by the writers in the second century and were depicted as having scales covering their whole bodies, scaly tail, gills, and fish-like mouth. It was nereids of Greek mythology who gave rise of the stories of mermaids. They were also known to mingle with human beings to have a child. The iconic Greek hero named Achilles was born of a mermaid, and plenty of Greek families still claim mermaid blood in their family.
In Greek mythology, Sirens were dangerous creatures who attracted nearby sailors with heir mesmerizing singing voices and music to crash on the rocky coast of their island. However, in Greek art, sirens were shown as the bird women with a gorgeous human face, feathered wings, and clawed feet. Later on, they were depicted as the female figures with bird legs and with or without wings playing different musical instruments, mainly harps. Initially, sirens were shown to be female or male, but the male siren faded from the art around the fifth century BC. Even Leonardo Da Vinci wrote in his notebooks that siren sings so sweetly that it allows the mariners to sleep. Then she climbs upon their ships and kills them. However, sirens were never half fish and half women creatures. Initially, there were only three sirens that started as mortal human women who were housemaids of Persephone (daughter of goddess Demeter). When Hades kidnaped Persephone, Demeter gifted these three girls so that they could find the lost girl. When they could not spot her, they eventually gave up and went to live on the island of Anthemoessa (cursed by Demeter) to stay as a half bird. The sirens were further cursed when they took part in the singing competition with Muses and lost the contest, wings, and most of their feathers.
Amazing Facts You Did Not Know about Mermaids
Mermaids have enchanted us in the paintings, fairytales, and documentaries for a long time. So, let’s check out interesting facts about these creatures.
1. The word mermaid comes from women of the sea
In old English, ‘mer’ means sea and ‘maid’ means women.
2. Many popular deities carry the form of a mermaid
The most famous deities that carried the form of mermaid were Greek Triton and Aphrodite, Assyrian goddess Astarte, and African deity MamiWata. They all showcase fertility, seduction, beauty, the force of art and seduction.
3. Mermen came first
Merman Babylonian God ‘Oannes’ was around 7000 years before Atargatis.
4. Mermaid legends come from Assyria
In 1000 BC, Syrian fertility goddess named Atargatis (the mother of Assyrian queen Semiramis) is perhaps the first mermaid. Legend says that she fell in love with a shepherd and killed him unintentionally. She felt ashamed of her action and dove into a lake and took a form of a fish, but only her bottom half changed. Since then tons of stories could be heard from folklore.
5. The real mermaid was not ‘maid’ at all
Babylonian god Oannes claims Atargatis by several thousand years. He has both human and fish body initially, but its human form was beneath his fish body that allowed him to live amongst human beings as well as in the sea.
4. Some people think that humans are descendants of mermaids
In few of the legends of the Pacific Islands, it is claimed that humans are descendants of both mermen and mermaids. It seems that their tails dropped off and they were able to walk on land.
5. Aquamarine is made out of mermaid tears
People once believed that the aquamarine- the gemstone of the sea came from the tears of a mermaid. It was also thought that it had the power to guard sailors when they were around the sea.
6. Mermaid is said to have supernatural powers
Mermaids are said to have four main powers – telepathy, hypnosis, immortality, and ability to see the future. Hans Christian Andersen in his tale ‘The Little Mermaid’ was supposed to have the ability to see. They live in both salt and freshwater. If any human caught their glimpse, it was considered as a bad omen. However, the power that aqualess mermaids features include:
-Hydrokinesis (ability to control water using hand and mind)
-Aerokinesis (ability to control wind)
-Cryokinesis (ability to create and control ice)
-Hydro-thermokinesis (ability to evaporate or boil water)
-Hydro-cryokinesis (ability to cool down or freeze water)
-Pyrokinesis (ability to begin fire)
-Lyrokinesis (ability to convert water into a gel-like substance)
-Combined atmokinesis (have all the above mentioned seven powers)
7. There were believed to be four kinds of mermaids
Traditional mermaids only live in the ocean, but other types have the ability to live in both on land and sea.
-Shapeshifting mermaid- has the ability to change into human form and back to mermaid at any time
-Selkies- have the ability to shed their tails in favor of human legs
-Merfolk- has more of a human-like shape that allows them to live on sea and land.
8. Mermaids Spell Trouble
Mermaids often meant trouble to the people of fisherman, sailors, and European people. Their presence could be a sign of a bad storm at sea or your bad luck.
9. Mermaids are more confident than mermen
The male counterparts merfolk are believed to be shy than their female counterparts.
10. Kiss of a mermaid gives better breathing underwater
Kiss from a mermaid is thought to be magical. It’s claimed that if anyone gets a kiss, he or she can better breathe underwater.
11. Sailors once confused Manatees for mermaids
When European sailors first made it to the Caribbean, they saw a creature which looked the same as a mermaid from the bottom down. From the midsection, he looks more like a cow. This leads to the depictions that label these creatures as ugly.
12. Changing tail depicts her mood
The tail of a mermaid changes color depending on the mood. They also depict her personality.
13. Mermaid Love to Accessorize
Although mermaids are naked, their favorite accessories are pearl necklaces, conch hats, and mirrors, combs, and kelp bracelets.