ARTICLES, Fantasy Creatures, Mermaids

Mermaids: Real or Fiction?

When Disney created the film The Little Mermaid (1989), many young girls dreamed of having a tail instead of legs and living in the underwater world. There are more to their aquatic hybrids than being showcased as a fun Disney character. These creatures had their own underwater society and laws that are different from the human world.

History of Mermaids

The word mermaid in Old English means a young girl or maiden of the sea. Merfolk are half human and half fish. Merfolk are often depicted of the top half of a beautiful physic male or female with the lower half being a fish’s tail. Whether male or female, merfolk are also always shown as divine beautiful creatures with long flowing hair.

 

Mermaid Artwork
Mermaid Artwork

Merfolk distrust humans fearful of being hunted by fishermen or losing their homes from pollution. It is rare for merfolk to save the life of a human, even during natural disasters linked to the ocean such as tsunamis, storms, or floods.

Legends of the Sea

There is a well-known Greek myth on how the city of Athens was named. Athena the Goddess of wisdom and Poseidon the God of the sea, both wanted the city named after them. To prevent a war from breaking out, Zeus ordered them to each gift the town with a present and let the people decide which God the city was named after.

Poseidon went first, digging a hole in the middle of the town and creating a spring of salt water for the people to drink from. He forgot that humans need fresh water to survive. Amused Athena went next, creating an olive tree next to the spring.  The choice was simple, and the town was soon named Athens after the Goddess. To this day, tourists go to Athens to visit the hill where the trial took place.

Poseidon’s wife Amphitrite is known as the goddess of the sea. She is the daughter of Nereus and Doris. Greek sailors would place wooden structures of the goddess on the bow of their ships to ensure safe passage on the seas. The duplication of the goddess is of a modern-day mermaid.The first known God of the sea was Nereus, nicknamed the old man of the sea.

 

Anchor Bay
Anchor Bay

Merfolk distrust humans fearful of being hunted by fishermen or losing their homes from pollution. It is rare for merfolk to save the life of a human, even during natural disasters linked to the ocean such as tsunamis, storms, or floods.

Legends of the Sea

There is a well-known Greek myth on how the city of Athens was named. Athena the Goddess of wisdom and Poseidon the God of the sea, both wanted the city named after them. To prevent a war from breaking out, Zeus ordered them to each gift the town with a present and let the people decide which God the city was named after.

Poseidon went first, digging a hole in the middle of the town and creating a spring of salt water for the people to drink from. He forgot that humans need fresh water to survive. Amused Athena went next, creating an olive tree next to the spring.  The choice was simple, and the town was soon named Athens after the Goddess. To this day, tourists go to Athens to visit the hill where the trial took place.

Poseidon’s wife Amphitrite is known as the goddess of the sea. She is the daughter of Nereus and Doris. Greek sailors would place wooden structures of the goddess on the bow of their ships to ensure safe passage on the seas. The duplication of the goddess is of a modern-day mermaid.The first known God of the sea was Nereus, nicknamed the old man of the sea.

He was the son of Pontus and Gaia the titan Goddess of mother earth. He married Oceanus and together created gods of the seas and oceans.  He was known for being wise, gentle, truthful, and a seer of the future. He is drawn as an old merman with seaweed for hair and a tail instead of legs.

There is another legend located in Japan. where merfolk is called kappa. Instead of living in the ocean Kappa live in lakes, coasts, and rivers. They are known as water sprites being no larger then a size of a human child. Unlike the merfolk common in American lore.

Kappa are more animal than human. Kappa are often seen with a tortoise shell on their back for defense and protection. Like the Blue Men, who are a group of mermen, they interact with humans to test their skill knowing that death awaited those who failed.

Kappa’s diets are sea cucumbers but there is a myth that they devour children and swimmers who think it’s wise to swim alone at night.

Folklore

In folklore, mermaids are often mixed with the lore of sirens. Beautiful creatures to use their voice to lure sailor to their death by crashing their vessels into sharp rocks.

Like mermaids, mermen can be just as threatening to humans. Like mermaids, mermen can wield the seas and create storms strong enough to push ships into sharp rocks or even causing the vessels to sink.

Coral

These creatures are known as the Blue Men of the Minch. Like mermaids, they are part human and part fish, except their human half has blue skin with long grey beards.

To spare a ship and the crew from sinking, the captain must win a rhythming contest against the king of the Blue Men.

Modern Mermaids

Scuba divers and marine researchers question if merfolk exists. According to Scuba Diver Life, reported sightings of them being mistaken for what manatees and dugongs are really. When mixed with the distance of the sightings and poor lighting, it’s not hard to mistake a manatee or dugong submerged in the water for merfolk.

Human Divers

Japanese skin divers, make a living out of mimicking merfolk. Wearing fabric tails with their bathing suits, women perform aquatic ballet in a glass cage. The stunt is an illusion to attract tourists to the area, hoping to get a glimpse of a real mermaid.

After doing much research, it’s hard to disbelieve the idea of mermaids existing or not. I believe that each person should examine the research presented to them, like I did, and then decide for their selves if mermaids are real or fiction. I choose to believe they exist because a large amount of our oceans are still undiscovered.

 

Anemone
Anemone

Furthermore, mermaids will continue to be a fascination for children of all ages. The concept of hybrids of the sea is a concept people wish are real. Those who enjoy spending hours in the ocean hold onto the concept of protective beings lying beneath the surface. To this day, there is no proof that merfolk exists, yet there is no proof that they are entirely made of myth either.

Emberly

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