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.
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.
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.
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?!