Mermaids are half-human half-fish creatures that have been mystifying the oceans for what seems like an eternity. They are humanoids who live deep inside the oceans and have greatly influenced the folk tales and culture of different regions, including Asia, Europe, and Africa. Mermaids are perceived in different ways in different cultures and traditions. Sometimes they are directly associated with bad and ominous events like droughts, floods, and earthquakes.
On the other hand, they are also viewed as good and loving creatures in some cultures and fables. There is no fixed or concrete point of view or perception of people towards these beautiful creatures, mostly because of the deep mysticism and the secrecy associated with them. Whether good or bad, regardless of that, mermaids have been one of the most mysterious and aspired creatures in the fantasy world, this is for sure.
Just the concept of a half woman half fish is enough to stir up intense feelings and intrigue. Many cultures have clear citations and talks on mermaids, and pieces of evidence proving their impact on popular culture are available today as well. Whenever somebody says the word mermaid, it won't take you much longer to think of a beautiful angel-like woman with a perfect body and long hair, with her bottom part being that of a fish, tails visible. However, in many cultures, the merman is also pretty famous. A merman is the male equivalent of a mermaid and possesses more or less the same features and attributes.
Still, a merman is not a word you are likely to hear much, and they are not very well known in different cultures and popular forms of entertainment. Even in earlier times as well, most of the folklore associated with half human half fish creatures was mostly centred around mermaids. When you talk about both mermaids and mermen in a collective sense, you might use the term "merfolk" or "merpeople".
The mermen and mermaids are usually assumed as creatures that peacefully co-exist, further strengthening some cultures' belief that mermaids are very benevolent and peace-loving creatures. It might not be concretely established as to when mermaids first appeared in literature and popular culture. However, this is for sure that these fish like creatures have been ruling the marine fantasy world for longer than we assume it to be. One of the earliest mentions of mermaids was in ancient Assyria, when Atargatis, the goddess, transformed herself into a mermaid because of the shame she felt after taking the life of her lover.
Mermaids are particularly famous in the West, and many experts believe that the western conception of them is strongly influenced by other fantasy animals from popular mythologies. For Example, many assert that the Greek Sirens gave birth to the concept of the mermaid in the west, and it is one of the most important factors that have shaped the whole figure of mermaids that we know today.
The flying sirens in Greek mythology were creatures who were held humans and half birds, much like mermaids, the only difference being that the half-bird part was a marine part in the case of mermaids. Are mermaids real? We can't answer that, but what we can tell you with a guarantee is that mermaids are very much revered and loved by fantasy fans, and they have influenced the creation of different cultural artworks and entertainment works like movies, novels, games, paintings, and sculptures. One of the greatest pieces of fiction ever written, Homer's Odyssey also includes the citation of mermaids.
The ultimate explorer, Christopher Columbus himself, used to talk about his experience with mermaids, about how he saw them while exploring the world. The famous English pirate Blackbeard, too, claimed to see beautiful fish in the oceans who had a woman's head. There are many stories and historical accounts about Dutch Traders spotting young women with long green hair and fish-like bodies swimming in the oceans along with their ships in medieval times.
Keep on reading this article and know more about these mysteriously magnificent marvels of marine fantasy. You can also find related information on other creatures such as the fire breathing dragons.
What is a Mermaid, and do Mermaids exist?
It is very important to understand what a mermaid exactly is before reading and understanding it in further detail. Most people agree that a mermaid is an aquatic creature, it lives deep inside oceans, and it can't survive on land for much time, just like almost all other aquatic animals. The mermaid is known for having an upper body that resembles a human figure, and its lower body (below the waist) has the tail of a fish in place of the legs. Generally, mermaids are perceived as female figures, although male mermaids too exist in popular culture (known as mermen, as we read earlier).
In legends and popular folktales, mermaids are depicted as extremely beautiful women who can mesmerise people just by their looks. Mermaids are also known to possess lovely voices, and they sing enchanting songs. Talking about the existence of these sublime figures, we can only speculate about their existence, as to date, nobody has found any concrete evidence that would suggest that an actual creature like a mermaid ever existed. But the question then arises is that how come the fables and mythical stories on mermaids are this popular and prevalent.
There have been numerous instances where people claimed that they had seen mermaids in real life. Even Cristopher Columbus claimed that he had seen mermaids. However, due to the absence of relevant and scientific proof of their existence, most people believe that mermaids are mythological creations similar to the stories of centaurs and have never existed anytime during history.
Some people argue that many sailors who returned from voyages used to tell that they had seen mermaids, but it is believed that they mistook manatees for mermaids due to the intense physical deprivation and the separation from females for long intervals of time. Manatees are large aquatic animals that live in the shallow coastal areas of the Caribbean, the Mexican Gulf, West Africa, Southern Africa, and the Amazon basin. These mammals are slow-moving and peaceful, and they like flocking towards human beings and human activities for warmth.
These Manatees have large tails that resemble the fishtails. So, it is a very likely possibility that the sailors that claimed seeing real mermaids might have seen these manatees and would have imagined them for a woman, as the voyages in those times used to be extremely long and could take several months. Talking about the technical possibilities of mermaids existing in real life, it is a very strong argument that mermaids are known for living deep inside the oceans, and the bulk of the oceans are unexplored. So, we can't just straight away dismiss all theories in their support.
Who knows, maybe we get a welcome from these heavenly beings while trying to uncover deep embedded marine secrets. Another scientific theory that might change the perception of some people is that it is believed that all forms of life on this earth originated from the sea, and the ocean is the mother of all humans and other animals, and there might still be numerous such creatures that we have never seen.
This theory has highly fascinated people, and more and more people are taking an interest in these human forms of fish that swim around the world to lure sailors and shower good luck.
Are mermaids real or pure fiction?
Fiction and Mermaids are two very connected words and concepts, and fiction is nowhere near complete without mermaids, the half woman half fish aquatic humanoids. A good ocean-themed movie or an action-filled pirate game doesn't feel that good without the presence of a beautiful mermaid with well-formed ears and a finely shaped nose. Mermaids are best known for their beauty and elegance.
While reading and exploring fictional entertainment, you will get to know about different mermaid forms and types. In books, legends, and tales, there are stories and tales about water spirits giving birth to the mermaid form.
It is also said that the sea gods live with beautiful mermaids just like the way kings used to enjoy with their queens. There isn't just one famous story about these mythical creatures, but many.
The water spirits just can't carry on without them. Mermaids are the show stoppers of everything. Young kids love them in cartoons and animation movies. Young audiences take an interest in fantasy movies and classic sea-adventure creations like Pirates of the Caribbean, which are highly influenced by mermaid-inspired fantasy. And adults often get amused and intrigued by them.
The ocean and the world are just incomplete without them. If you haven't been in touch with aquatic fiction, then you are definitely missing something great, and you should read some themed novels really quick.
So, after considering all the arguments, it wouldn't be totally right to deny the existence of mermaids. However, it does seem like a very likely possibility. One thing is for sure that mermaids not only live in the fantasy and mythological world but they kind of rule it. Mermaids are often shown in popular entertainment about the myths of unicorns and other mythical beings.
Mermaids - Half-human and Half-Fish
Thanks to their strong presence in the fictional world and in popular culture and folklore, mermaids are just as popular as they were 100 years ago. We love mermaids and always want to know more and more about them. It is like an insatiable hunger that never ends. Talking about hunger, a very famous question that makes everyone scratch their heads is that what do these mermaids eat.
This is a pretty interesting question, and mermaid lovers have their separate theories on this. Some people simply say that they a mermaid eats fish and other seafood. A mermaid is also a kind of fish, and it should also eat the food that other fish eat. This seems plausible to most, but some dismiss this theory by saying that the Mermaid is a sweet and benevolent creature, and it can never even think about harming its fellow sea residents.
Those who support this theory say that mermaids thrive on vegetarian food available in the sea, like seaweed, plants, etc. It also amuses many people that are their other water bodies as well where mermaids can live. Well, as a mermaid is mainly a sea creature, most mermaids live in the sea, which is a no brainer. However, as mentioned in some scriptures and cultural references in texts, mermaids are also known to live in other water bodies like rivers and lakes. It is also a popular belief that many mermaids live in the beautiful oceanic city of Atlantis. Atlantis is a mythical city, and it is said that it submerged into the sea.
A mermaid needs water to live, and it can't survive without water for much longer. Thus, it is popularly depicted in fiction movies and books that people try to move mermaids from one place to another in small water tanks so that they can breathe. However pretty and elegant mermaids may look, but they still are mysterious mythological creatures, and when something gets connected to mysticism and supernatural powers, a sense of wariness and caution automatically emerges.
Real mermaids aren't hostile creatures, they are considered spiritual, and they just can't cause any harm. But there are other mythical aquatic animals that look like mermaids but actually are not- these are known as sirens. Sirens are the sinister counterparts of mermaids, these are mythological animals as well, but they are evil and dangerous. Sirens love to cause trouble and mayhem.
In popular fiction, there are many instances where sirens lure innocent sailors to their deaths. The most dangerous weapon of a siren is its beautiful looks and enchanting voice. Sirens look a lot like mermaids in terms of their body structure and look, but both of them are poles apart. In movies and books, sirens use their melodious voice to sing songs that cause the sailors to go mad and jump into the water, and then these alluring beasts eat them.
Sirens are mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as well. As mermaids are half human and half fish, a lot of debate goes on as to how they reproduce. Some argue that as a mermaid is a fish, she has no external organs, and she reproduces by giving eggs, just like other fishes.
However, many argue that a mermaid can also give birth, just like the way dolphins do. We may never know the correct way mermaids are born, but it surely is a very interesting thing to think about. Older stories about mermaids also often talk about fairies so maybe thats why most people think its pure entertainment.
Have the sea creatures been spotted by people?
You might or might not believe in mermaids, but there are many people who claim that they have seen real mermaids. It is not like that these sightings used to happen earlier only, and people regularly keep claiming that they have seen these mystifying beings at one place or another. Just some years ago, in 2009, a huge buzz was created in the coastal Israeli town of Kiryat Yam when many people claimed that they had seen real mermaids swimming around the coast and moving towards the town.
A lot of natives claimed that what they were asserting was true, and mermaids have returned to this world now. It caused a lot of disturbance and confusion in the town, and the mayor ended up announcing a prize worth 1 Million Dollars for anybody who could concretely prove that mermaids do exist in real life. In 2005, some people started believing that the Indian ocean was the home to beautiful mermaids.
All this started when the dead body of a mermaid-like looking creature ended up on the Marina beach in Chennai. The mermaid also has a place in Indian culture. In Tamil, mermaids are called Kadal Kanni, a mythic creature with a half-human body and half-fish body. Not much is known about the mysterious remains of the creature that appeared on the beach.
However, there were rumours that the carcass of this supernatural being was safely deposited in the Egmore Museum under very tight security. At the time of WW2, many Japanese soldiers claimed that they had seen many real mermaids on the coastal area of the Indonesian Kei Islands. The soldiers described that these mermaids had human-like faces and working limbs.
The Indonesian islands are home to many supernatural and mythological events. Some have claimed seeing mermaids on the shore, whereas some said that they saw real dragons on the islands. We can't entirely dismiss these claims and beliefs, as the locals of this area have also claimed watching mermaids there, which definitely gives birth to a lot of questions. It is not like mermaid sightings are a thing of the modern world.
People have been claiming to see this exquisite sea-dwelling being for centuries, if not millenniums. There are strong hints, and it is believed that the Governor of Gaul wrote a letter to the emperor Augustus talking about mermaids more than 2200 years ago. In the 2nd century AD, there were many cases where people reported sighting mermaids near the coast, and it was said that mermaid corpses frequently washed up on the shore.
Even blackboard, the famous English pirate, wrote about mermaids in his logbook. He used to instruct his crew to plan the routes carefully and stay away from certain areas where he believed mermaids lived. Even the famous explorer, Christopher Columbus, is known to have sighted mermaids near Hispaniola.
There are sources that he said that those mermaids weren't beautiful and had certain masculine features. Some people support the theory that he might have seen manatees and that its not pure fantasy entertainment.
Greek mythology and mermaid sea creatures
Mermaids enjoy a pretty long history, they have been around for thousands of years, and every once in a while, people claim they have seen them. Sometimes other incidents occur that solidifies the theory that mermaids are real, and they are alive today as well. The Greeks were like the masters of everything in their era. Greek literature and material are available on almost every topic and popular culture that existed in earlier times, and the mermaid is no exception.
Some of the oldest stories and myths related to mermaids are from ancient Greek Mythology and Greek folklore. Ancient Greek folklore tells us a lot about what a mermaid was like and what was society's perception towards them at that time. Generally, the mermaid is not termed as a benevolent being in the Greek culture, and it was considered ominous and dangerous.
There are several tales that claim mermaids used to eat humans, they enchanted and hypnotised sailors with their melodious voice, and they eventually ended up being dead. So, it would not be wrong to say that in Greek Mythology, most of the mermaid mentions are not actually about mermaids and more about sirens. One story on mermaids in Greek Mythology that is probably the most famous is about Alexander The Great's sister, Thessalonike, who converted into a mermaid after her death.
After converting, she started living in the city of Aegean. According to the legend, she used to ask about her brother Alexander to the sailor who passed by. If the sailors replied by saying that Alexander was conquering the world, then she used to calm the waters for them, and if their answers angered her, then she destroyed the ship and killed every last sailor on board.
So, according to the Greek sources, ancient people didn't exactly love mermaids and used to avoid the ocean parts where they were sighted. The sea creatures are mentioned almost as much as the pegasus from greek mythology.
Mermaids in Haiti
The Haitian Mermaid is an Ocean Queen
There is a special connection between Haiti and mermaids. Haiti is a country on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. The first Europeans arrived on the island with the voyage of Christopher Columbus, and there are texts that support him seeing mermaids in the coastal waters of Hispaniola. The mermaid is deeply woven into the minds and culture of the Haitian people. Some of them claim that they have seen a mermaid there, or their relatives have seen one, and these are the events of recent years.
You will find many such stories in Haiti, as the people there are fascinated by them, and a lot of Haitian culture and folklore is inspired by mermaids. All the stories and myths about Haitian mermaids revolve around the main ocean spirit of that area called Lasiren. For centuries, people have considered Lasiren to be the queen of the ocean and the water spirits, and you will easily find different stories about her in various forms and many versions.
However, in every story and legend about the ocean queen, you will find the same thing in its core. It is believed that this mermaid queen blesses the coastal area near the island, she is a bringer of good luck, and she lives in a giant luxurious palace inside the ocean. As Lasiren is the mermaid queen, she is quite popular in Haiti, and people literally worship her as the symbol of prosperity, beauty, and love.
Due to this high popularity, it can't be said with a concreteness that is it the same mermaid queen people claim to have seen, or are there many other mermaids as well. In Haiti, the mermaid is also a popular figure in Haitian Vodou culture. Vodou is a dominant religion in most parts of Haiti. First of all, you should understand what Vodou really is, and it is not what is generally shown in movies and other popular entertainment forms.
They are misrepresentations of the sacred religion what it actually is. Vodou is based on positive spiritual beliefs and practices, the followers of the religion believe in 3 spirits, and they believe that these spirits influence their day to day life, so they do all sorts of traditions and things to make these spirits happy. The mermaid queen Lasiren is actually one of these spirits, and she is the most popular one.
You will find many songs and folk legends about her in the Vodou culture. Haitian people believe that the mermaid queen Lasiren is their helper, and they regularly perform all sorts of cultural rituals and practices that are known to make her happy, and then she showers happiness and goodness over them by increasing farming output, calming the sea, and other good signs. The mermaid queen Lasiren is also popularly revered as the symbol of the feminine spirit. Haitian mythology states that Lasiren is the symbol of the three feminine faces, the goddess, the mother, and the lover.
It is also rumoured that the mermaid queen sometimes abducts women. There are famous legends where Lasiren abducts a young woman, she either pleases the water spirits and comes out of the water as a powerful and strong metahuman with holy powers like the ability to heal, or they simply drown.
It is in contrast with the general perception of mermaids in other cultures, especially the ancient Greek culture, where mermaids were known to lure men and sailors instead of females.
Tv shows and Mermaid movies
The general interest and love of people around the world towards mermaids has prompted many directors and writers to create TV Shows and Movies on mermaid culture. Young women and kids often get fascinated by the mere concept of having a beautiful fishtail and exploring the secrets of the ocean with other sea animals. It's not only about the kids.
Mermaids have never failed to capture the attention of adults who too get bewitched by the mere idea of this mystic being that has ruled oceans folktales and legends since the ancient era. Mermaids are now ruling over the fantasy cinema world, and you get a ton of options when you search for the word mermaid on any OTT platform. One of the most iconic mermaid movies ever created is The Little Mermaid. It is a beautiful cartoon film whose plot is rather well known, the most famous mermaid-based movie of all time is a timeless classic, and it inspired many other titles made after its release. This iconic movie then inspired its creators also to make a TV series on the same theme, to satisfy the fans requesting it.
Another title worth mentioning when talking about the best mermaid films is The Thirteenth Year. It is a 1999 movie that almost every 90s kid must have seen at least once. The plot in this Disney Channel Original movie revolves around Cody, whose 13th birthday brings a lot of surprises for him. The film then portrays the adventures he faces when he comes to know that his birth mother was actually a real mermaid.
Cody was a slick swimmer from his childhood, and now his whole body becomes a little sticky, and scale-like patterns start appearing on his skin. He also faces danger from a nearby mermaid hunter, and the story holds quite a punch. Mermaids also play a part in the most famous fictional movie series of all time, Harry Potter. There are different novels that have inspired the cinematic masterpiece, and you will find mermaids in many of them, in movies as well as novels.
Pirates of the Caribbean is also a great piece of cinema when talking about mermaids. In the 4th part of the series, pirates go on an adventure to the bewitched part of the seas, where mermaids are found. They need a mermaid to perform a special ritual, and they try to capture one to take away in the ship.
These movies are pretty solid, and you should see them all if you are into aquatic fantasy or just mermaids in general.
Mermaids in Entertainment
Like movies and books, mermaids are also the inspirations for many video games, which is quite understandable as they do have a pretty wide fanbase. You will get a lot of gaming titles based on these beautiful aquatic creatures on different platforms, including PCs, consoles, and mobile phones as well.
Popular gaming houses have developed these titles, and mermaid lovers get quite a few options in the gaming universe. You should definitely experience how the gaming world creators have incorporated ocean fantasy and mermaids into the many forms of gaming entertainment.
Top 5 Games about Mermaids
Here is a list of some ocean-themed and mermaid-inspired games that let you explore the sea secrets:
These are some good games that will help you interactively understand what mermaids actually are and how they are depicted in popular culture and the entertainment world.
A mermaid is a mythical sea-dwelling creature
In different parts of the world, people think differently about mermaids, and they have different views and perceptions of these attractive aquatic humanoids. In many countries, a mermaid is considered a holy symbol, and they are revered as forms of gods. On the other hand, it is also not uncommon to see people having monstrous perceptions of them, where they are considered as evil forms who want to kill all humans.
Whether good or bad, mermaids have never failed to capture popular attention. We see them in all sorts of fictional and fantasy creations, including novels, games, movies, paintings, even in songs and folk stories. Different cultures around the world have given these mythical sea-dwelling creatures their due respect. The Greeks stayed away from them as their culture depicts mermaids as dangerous and evil.
In complete contrast to it, the Haitian people think of them as godly creatures who have are the symbols of happiness and purity. The Haitian people love mermaids, just like the way they have been doing for several years. They respect them as their saviours and caretakers. Whenever something bad or ominous happens, they pray to the Mermaid Queen to help them. Some people thought of them as the most beautiful and enchanting beings that ever existed, and some used to think of them as the aquatic forms of satan and evil forces. No mythical talk is completed until mermaids are discussed, and they have strongly carved the beliefs of many cultures and groups.
Seafaring men pray to them to ensure a safe and sound voyage, and agrarian groups hold grand festivals to make mermaids happy so that they shower their lands with rain and prosperity. There aren't many people who don't get mesmerised by the beauty of these mythical beings. Mermaids look so intriguing and mysterious that people have even tried to create fake mermaids by sewing the upper part of animals like monkeys to the lower parts of fishes.
Regardless of how insane and crazy it sounds, it is a perfect indicator of the level of interest we take in them. Still, in the end, the biggest question about them that remains unanswered to date is whether are they real or just a myth? Or did they ever exist at any time in history or not. It won't be difficult to find people arguing on this at every point of time in history, and today as well. Mermaids are a mystery that has always remained unsolved, and from what information we have on them, it looks like it is going to stay like this forever.
So, it is totally up to you to decide what to make of all the information we have on these elegant humanoids. Do you believe in mermaids or not?
Warm Mermaid Wishes
Shazzy Davies, author of the article.