Do Mermaids Exist???

### Do Mermaids Really Exist? Exploring Aquatic Myths Across Cultures

Legends of mermaids and their mythical counterparts from various cultures have enriched folklore for centuries. These legendary beings are often depicted with a human upper body and the tail of a fish, residing deep in the ocean's embrace. Let's dive into the various mythical water creatures resembling mermaids that populate tales worldwide, casting a new light on these enchanting narratives.

#### Enchanting Sirens and Gentle Selkies

Sirens, often confused with mermaids, are mythological creatures famed for their mesmerizing songs that led sailors to their doom. Unlike the malevolent sirens, Selkies from Scottish and Irish folklore are gentler beings. They live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to walk on land as humans. The transformation of Selkies highlights themes of freedom and captivity, mystically connecting the oceanic depths with the human world.

#### Divine Spirits: From Naiads to Triton

Naiads, the serene nymphs of freshwater bodies, and Triton, the striking merman of Greek mythology, son of Poseidon, enrich these sea legends. Triton, often depicted carrying a conch shell trumpet through which he could calm or raise the waves, serves as a potent symbol of the ocean’s dual nature — both nurturing and destructive.

#### Oannes: The Babylonian Insight

From the shores of ancient Babylon, Oannes emerges as a unique deity, half-man and half-fish. According to myths, he emerged from the sea daily to impart wisdom to people, blending the divine knowledge of the gods with the mysterious abyss of the ocean.

### Cultural Reflections of Mermaids Around the World

#### The Transformation of Atargatis

The Assyrian myth of Atargatis tells a poignant story of the goddess transforming into a mermaid out of remorse and grief after the accidental death of her human lover. Her tale, originating around 1000 BC, is one of the earliest depictions of mermaid mythology, showcasing themes of love, tragedy, and transformation.

#### Celtic and Japanese Interpretations

In the chilly waters around the Shetland and Faroe Islands, Celtic legends whisper of mermaids who navigate the undersea and terrestrial worlds by donning or shedding fish skins. Similarly, Japanese folklore enriches the tapestry of mermaid myths with stories of Kappa, mischievous water spirits, and the mystical mermaid whose remains allegedly rest in a temple in Fukuoka, believed to be connected to the celestial underwater dragon kingdom of Ryujin.

#### Mystical Storm Summoners: Kelpies and Blue Men of the Minch

Scottish folklore is rife with stories of Kelpies and the Blue Men of the Minch, malevolent spirits believed to control the weather and fate of sailors. These legends often involve challenges or bargains, reflecting the unpredictable nature of the sea and the thin line between safe passage and calamity.

### Conclusion: Reflecting on the Existence of Mermaids

While no concrete evidence supports the physical existence of mermaids, the cultural and psychological realities they represent are undeniable. These creatures continue to swim through the currents of human imagination, symbolizing our innate fear of and fascination with the unknown depths of the ocean. Through their stories, we confront our desires, fears, and the boundless mysteries of the natural world.

### Author's Note - Imagining a Mermaid's Tale

As a writer who thrives on weaving suspense and mystery into the fabric of narrative, I find the universal tales of mermaids particularly captivating. These stories serve not only to entertain but to probe the profound depths of human emotion and the enigmatic laws of nature. Plunging into this aquatic lore offers a sea of possibilities for storytelling that enthralls and enchants, urging us to look deeper into the unknown.

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### Introduction to the Myth of Mermaids

Across the ages and oceans, the myth of the mermaid has captured human imagination like few other creatures. With the head and torso of a human and the glistening tail of a fish, these legendary beings have sparked tales of beauty, bewitchment, and peril at sea. In this exploration of marine folklore, we dive into the enchanted waters of mermaid mythology to understand if there's any truth to their tales, blending the nervy, noir style of John Sanford with a splash of maritime mystery.

### The Global Lore of the Watery Depths

#### Ancient Echoes and Diverse Tales

Mermaids, sirens, selkies, and more populate the storied seascapes of world mythology. Sirens of Greek mythology sang their irresistible songs, luring sailors to their doom. Meanwhile, the Celts told tales of the selkies, seals that could shed their skins to become humans, often caught between the land they explore and the sea they must return to. From the Babylonian deity Oannes, imparting wisdom on mankind, to the powerful Greek god Triton, wielding his conch shell trumpet, these stories connect us with the water in profound ways.

#### Cultural Depictions Around the World

From the Assyrian goddess Atargatis transforming into a mermaid from despair, to mermaids of the Shetland Islands in Celtic legends, different cultures have depicted merfolk uniquely. Scottish tales of the Kelpies and the Blue Men of the Minch describe malevolent spirits capable of causing storms and disasters at sea. Even in Japan, the kappa are feared as water spirits who challenge passersby and enjoy cucumbers.

### Sighting the Mythical Mermaids

#### Historical Sightings and Modern Confusions

Christopher Columbus, during his 1493 voyage, claimed to have seen mermaids near the Dominican Republic, describing them less as enchanting beauties and more as strange, man-faced creatures in the sea. These sightings, often attributed to manatees or dugongs by modern scholars, suggest that mariners of old might have been mistaking these aquatic mammals for mythic merfolk.

#### The Influence of Media and Myth

In 2012, the fictional documentary "Mermaids: The Body Found" aired on Animal Planet, blending science and fantasy to suggest the existence of mermaids. The show was so convincingly made that it prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to officially declare that no evidence of mermaids has ever been found.

### Conclusion: The Enchanting Power of Mermaid Myths

Do mermaids exist? The answer lies not in the ocean depths but in the human heart and mind. These stories, from ancient myth to modern fiction, reflect our intrinsic fascination with the unknown and our eternal connection to the vast, mysterious ocean. Whether serving as cautionary tales, cultural symbols, or sparks of imagination, mermaids remind us of the deep-seated curiosity and awe that define the human experience.

### Writer’s Reflection - John Sanford’s Take

"If I were to cast this narrative into one of my thrillers, I'd place my protagonist in a coastal town, wrestling with the blurred lines between myth and murder. The mermaid lore would serve as a perfect backdrop, weaving through the plot like a dark, twisting current. This exploration journeys into the heart of human belief and the myths we create to make sense of the inexplicable."

Through such a lens, the mermaid myth presents not only a captivating mystery but also a rich vein of culture and history, ripe for storytelling. Icons like these keep the pages turning and the shores whispering of secrets yet to be uncovered.

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Do Mermaids Exist? This is a question that’s been asked throughout the ages! Let’s have a look at what we DO know and have you draw your own conclusions!

Today's folklore tells us that Mermaids and their male counterparts Mermen, are thought to be legendary water creatures with the head and upper body of a human and the lower body of a fish. They live primarily beneath the sea.

Do Mermaids Exist??  What Others Call Them

Mermaid Dream

Sirens are those aquatic creatures who seduce and lure sailors to destruction with their sweet, enchanting song. 

Selkies, or seal folk, are beings capable of transforming from seal to human form by shedding their skin.

Naiads are nymphs who preside over bodies of fresh water, such as streams, brooks and lakes.

Oannes, Babylonian god from 4000 BC, is said to have appeared out of the ocean every day, as half man, half fish, to share his wisdom with the people along the Persian Gulf.

Triton, a merman, is a Greek god of the sea, the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. Later depictions of Triton show him as having a conch shell, which he would blow like a trumpet! In English literature, Triton is the messenger for the god Poseidon.

Other Cultures Think Mermaids Do Exist

Mermaid bathing

Many cultures from all over the world are known to have myths and legends about these water-creatures.

In Assyrian (present-day Syria/northern Iraq)  mythology, about 1000 BC, the beautiful fertility goddess Atargatis is said to have cast herself into a lake, a self-punishment from shame and/or grief from inadvertently killing her lover; she retains her feminine beauty above the waist while having a fish tail instead of legs, essentially becoming a mermaid. 

Celtic legend says that mermaids live under the sea around the Shetland Islands (situated in the Northern Atlantic between Great Britain, the Faroe Islands and Norway). They don the skin of fish when on land, because without it, they would be unable to return to their underwater realm.

Kelpies - Blue Men of the Minch (also known as storm kelpies), are said to dwell in the Outer Hebrides (off the coast of Scotland). They are thought to summon storms, sink ships and drown sailors—but with a twist…they first challenge the ship’s captain to a rhyming contest, and if the captain can best the Blue Men, his sailors are spared!

Kappa - Japanese legend has a version of death and destruction akin to the Blue Men. Kappa are child-size water spirits who sometimes interact with humans, challenging them to games of skill—the penalty of losing is death. Kappa are said to have an appetite for children, lying in wait for the foolish lone swimmer in remote places. Fun fact: Kappa are said to prize fresh cucumbers—so, I’m betting most Japanese ships carried a stash, just in case they were needed for bargaining!

Japan - I read that in a temple in Fukuoka, Japan, the remains of a mermaid, washed ashore in 1222, are housed. A priest believed she had come from the legendary palace of a dragon god at the bottom of the ocean. Ryujin, ruler of seas and oceans, was described as a dragon capable of changing into human form. Ryugujo, “dragon palace castle” undersea, is where he kept the magical tide jewels. The water that was soaking the mermaid’s bones was said to prevent disease and illness. Few bones remain now, and as they were never scientifically tested, their true nature remains a mystery.

Do Mermaids Exist, though?

There have been many mermaid sightings over the years, but perhaps none more sincere than this excerpt from the diary of Christopher Columbus, January 9, 1943:

“The day before, when the Admiral was going to the Rio del Oro, he said he saw three mermaids who came quite high out of the water but were not as pretty as they are depicted, for somehow in the face they look like men. He said that he saw some in Guinea on the coast of Manegueta.”

Let me present the other side of the coin here! Some researchers believe that sightings of other sea animals, such as manatees and dugongs (similar to a manatee), may be responsible for merfolk legends—and when you think about the possible conditions at sea, the weather, the waves, the lighting/shadows, the distance (and maybe some grog!), anything is possible!

Animal Planet presented a fictional special, “Mermaids: The Body Found”, presenting the story of scientists finding proof of real mermaids in the oceans. It was presented in documentary form and was SO convincing, that NOAA was forced to issue a statement officially denying the existence of mermaids--but much like the debate over the existence of “aliens”, I wonder if such “super-natural” evidence WAS, in fact, real, might it be denied “for the good of the people”?

What do you think?!