Do you believe in mermaids?
Mermaid by Janice Pugsley
Everyone today knows what a mermaid is said to look like. We have seen pictures of them in books and in paintings too. We all know that they are beautiful women but with a fish’s body and tail for their lower half. There is a definite attraction to mermaids and a fascination with them. They are beautiful and mysterious.
Most people think that mermaids are mythological beings of legend and fairy stories and are not real and never were. But others believe that mermaids are real, though they may not be exactly as depicted. What about you, do you believe that mermaids are real?
Dugongs, manatees and sea cows
A very down-to-earth explanation for what mermaids are has often been suggested. The idea has been put forward that mermaids were actually no more than sea mammals known as dugongs, manatees and sea cows that had been sighted by sailors who had been at sea for a long time and deprived of real women. These lonely men had seen the animals and their imaginations had done the rest. But does this explanation really stand up well?
Actually it does not because these marine mammals look nothing like beautiful women. A dugong is a fat and blubber-covered creature more like a large seal. It has no long flowing hair, no face like a woman’s but has a whiskery nose a large mouth it uses for grazing on seaweed and sea-grass. In place of hands and arms it has primitive-looking flippers. A manatee or dugong looks nothing like a traditional mermaid! Unless the sailors were hallucinating there is no way they would mistake a sea cow for a beautiful woman!
Dugongs are in a family of mammals known to zoologists as the Sirenia, and Sirens were the mythical women who enticed unfortunate sailors to their doom. Sirens are the subjects of Greek mythology and were said to have lured sailors with enchanting songs and caused the hapless mariners to crash their boats into rocks.
William Bond’s theory about mermaids
Writer William Bond thinks a far more believable explanation for what mermaids really are is to be found in Japan where there are breath-holding divers known as the Ama. Most of them are women and traditionally they only wore a loin-cloth when diving. They are mainly women because it is thought that women can cope better with cold water than men due to the distribution of fat on their bodies that acts as insulation. The Ama divers go deep under the water searching for shellfish, pearl-bearing oysters and seaweed.
The Japanese divers are known to have been doing this for at least the past 2,000 years but there is evidence that the practice of breath-holding diving was once far more commonplace around the world. William Bond, who is also an expert on and an advocate for matriarchy, thinks that this form of diving was stamped out by the patriarchal cultures that came to dominate the countries of the world. Male rulers did not want it known that women could do something better than the men.
The belief in mermaids has been supported in historical records. In 1493, Christopher Columbus reported seeing three mermaids, though he claimed they were not as attractive as the ones we are familiar with. The pirate Blackbeard is also said to have warned his crew to stay out of charted areas of the oceans for fear of mermaids there.
Coming a long way forward in time, in August 2009, after it was reported that a lot of people had said they had seen a mermaid leaping up from the water and performing various tricks, the Israeli coastal town of Kiryat Yam made the offer of $1,000,000 award for evidence that this had really taken place.
Mermaids in movies and artwork
Mermaids have often been the subject matter of paintings and also for screenwriters and film-makers. For example, Splash was a 1984 comedy and fantasy film, made in America, about a mermaid played by the actress Daryl Hannah. Mermaids even feature in heraldry such as the sword-bearing mermaid in the coat-of-arms of Warsaw in Poland.
People who want to be mermaids
With all the interest in the subject of mermaids perhaps it is not surprising that there are actually people around today who want to be mermaids and mermen. In Florida there is a mer-tailor who makes costumes that enable his customers to indulge in their fantasy. You can buy a very realistic custom-made mermaid tail in the form of a mermaid’s lower half of the body. It has authentic looking scales and a tail-fin and come in a range of colours. The designer who makes these tails says that he always wanted to be a merman and so he set out to find a way of making his dream a reality. Not surprisingly they cost many thousands of dollars but the young women who have bought them are able to dive and swim and look like real mermaids. At the Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida there are regular performances given by the women who work there dressed as mermaids. This has become a popular tourist attraction.
Only in America the land of opportunity, could something as fantastic as this take place. In Florida, mermaids are real!
Copyright © 2013 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.
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