In folklore, a mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish.[1] Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The first stories appeared in ancient Assyria, in which the goddess Atargatis transformed herself into a mermaid out of shame for accidentally killing her human lover. Mermaids are sometimes associated with perilous events such as floods, storms, shipwrecks, and drownings. In other folk traditions (or sometimes within the same tradition), they can be benevolent or beneficent, bestowing boons or falling in love with humans.

The male equivalent of the mermaid is the merman, also a familiar figure in folklore and heraldry. Although traditions about and sightings of mermen are less common than those of mermaids, they are generally assumed to co-exist with their female counterparts.

Some of the attributes of mermaids may have been influenced by the Sirens of Greek mythology. Historical accounts of mermaids, such as those reported by Christopher Columbus during his exploration of the Caribbean, may have been inspired by manatees and similar aquatic mammals. While there is no evidence that mermaids exist outside folklore, reports of mermaid sightings continue to the present day, including 21st-century examples from Israel and Zimbabwe.

Mermaids have been a popular subject of art and literature in recent centuries, such as in Hans Christian Andersen's well-known fairy tale "The Little Mermaid" (1836). They have subsequently been depicted in operas, paintings, books, films and comics.

John William Waterhouse A Mermaid
John William Waterhouse, A Mermaid (1900).
Sub groupingWater spirit
Similar creaturesMerman
MythologyWorld mythology
HabitatOcean, sea

Etymology and related terms

Leighton-The Fisherman and the Syren-c. 1856-1858
The Fisherman and the Syren, by Frederic Leighton, c. 1856–1858

The word mermaid is a compound of the Old English mere (sea), and maid (a girl or young woman).[1] The equivalent term in Old English was merewif.[2] They are conventionally depicted as beautiful with long flowing hair.[1] As cited above, they are sometimes equated with the sirens of Greek mythology (especially the Odyssey), half-bird femmes fatales whose enchanting voices would lure soon-to-be-shipwrecked sailors to nearby rocks, sandbars or shoals.[3]


Sirenia is an order of fully aquatic, herbivorous mammals that inhabit rivers, estuaries, coastal marine waters, swamps and marine wetlands. Sirenians, including manatees and dugongs, possess major aquatic adaptations: arms used for steering, a paddle used for propulsion, and remnants of hind limbs (legs) in the form of two small bones floating deep in the muscle. They look ponderous and clumsy but are actually fusiform, hydrodynamic and highly muscular, and mariners before the mid-nineteenth century referred to them as mermaids.[4]


Sirenomelia, also called "mermaid syndrome", is a rare congenital disorder in which a child is born with his or her legs fused together and small genitalia. This condition is about as rare as conjoined twins, affecting one out of every 100,000 live births[5] and is usually fatal within a day or two of birth because of kidney and bladder complications. Four survivors were known as of July 2003.[6]


As the anthropologist A. Asbjørn Jøn noted: "these 'marine beasts' have featured in folk tradition for many centuries now, and until relatively recently they have maintained a reasonably standard set of characteristics. Many folklorists and mythographers deem that the origin of the mythic mermaid is the dugong, posing a theory that mythicised tales have been constructed around early sightings of dugongs by sailors." [7]

Near East, Ancient Greece

Depictions of entities with the tails of fish, but upper bodies of human beings appear in Mesopotamian artwork from the Old Babylonian Period onwards.[8] These figures are usually mermen, but mermaids do occasionally appear.[8] The name for the mermaid figure may have been kuliltu, meaning "fish-woman".[8] Such figures were used in Neo-Assyrian art as protective figures[8] and were shown in both monumental sculpture and in small, protective figurines.[8]

Atargatis depicted as a fish with a woman's head, on a coin of Demetrius III.

The first known mermaid stories appeared in Assyria c. 1000 BC. The goddess Atargatis, mother of Assyrian queen Semiramis, loved a mortal (a shepherd) and unintentionally killed him. Ashamed, she jumped into a lake and took the form of a fish, but the waters would not conceal her divine beauty. Thereafter, she took the form of a mermaid — human above the waist, fish below — although the earliest representations of Atargatis showed her as a fish with a human head and arm, similar to the Babylonian god Ea.[9] The Greeks recognized Atargatis under the name Derketo.[10] Sometime before 546 BC, Milesian philosopher Anaximander postulated that mankind had sprung from an aquatic animal species. He thought that humans, who begin life with prolonged infancy, could not have survived otherwise.

A popular Greek legend turned Alexander the Great's sister, Thessalonike, into a mermaid (Greek: γοργόνα) after her death,[11] living in the Aegean. She would ask the sailors on any ship she would encounter only one question: "Is King Alexander alive?" (Greek: "Ζει ο Βασιλεύς Αλέξανδρος;"), to which the correct answer was: "He lives and reigns and conquers the world" (Greek: "Ζει και βασιλεύει και τον κόσμον κυριεύει"). This answer would please her, and she would accordingly calm the waters and bid the ship farewell. Any other answer would enrage her, and she would stir up a terrible storm, dooming the ship and every sailor on board.[12][13]

In the second century AD, the Hellenized Syrian writer Lucian of Samosata wrote about the Syrian temples he had visited in his treatise On the Syrian Goddess, which was originally written in Ionic Greek:

"Among them – Now that is the traditional story among them concerning the temple. But other men swear that Semiramis of Babylonia, whose deeds are many in Asia, also founded this site, and not for Hera but for her own mother, whose name was Derketo."
"I saw Derketo's likeness in Phoenicia, a strange marvel. It is woman for half its length; but the other half, from thighs to feet, stretched out in a fish's tail. But the image in the Holy City is entirely a woman, and the grounds for their account are not very clear. They consider fish to be sacred, and they never eat them; and though they eat all other fowls they do not eat the dove, for they believe it is holy. And these things are done, they believe, because of Derketo and Semiramis, the first because Derketo has the shape of a fish, and the other because ultimately Semiramis turned into a dove. Well, I may grant that the temple was a work of Semiramis perhaps; but that it belongs to Derketo I do not believe in any way. For among the Egyptians some people do not eat fish, and that is not done to honor Derketo."[14]

In his Natural History 9.4.9-11, Pliny the Elder describes numerous sightings of mermaids off the coast of Gaul, noting that their bodies were covered all over in scales and that their corpses frequently washed up on shore. He comments that the governor of Gaul even wrote a letter to Emperor Augustus to inform him.[15]

One Thousand and One Nights

Mashhad museum PARI DARYAEI
A dried skate, or Jenny Haniver. Mashhad Museum, Iran.

The One Thousand and One Nights collection includes several tales featuring "sea people", such as "Djullanar the Sea-girl".[16] Unlike depictions of mermaids in other mythologies, these are anatomically identical to land-bound humans, differing only in their ability to breathe and live underwater. They can (and do) interbreed with land humans, and the children of such unions have the ability to live underwater. In the tale "Abdullah the Fisherman and Abdullah the Merman", the protagonist Abdullah the Fisherman gains the ability to breathe underwater and discovers an underwater society that is portrayed as an inverted reflection of society on land. The underwater society follows a form of primitive communism where concepts like money and clothing do not exist. In "The Adventures of Bulukiya", the protagonist Bulukiya's quest for the herb of immortality leads him to explore the seas, where he encounters societies of mermaids.[16]

Due to their vaguely anthropomorphic shape, dried skates have long been described as mermaids. Often their appearance is deliberately modified to make them look even more human. In Europe, dried skates, sometimes called devil fish, (not to be confused with devil fish or devil rays, two species of ray native to the north Atlantic) were displayed as mermaids, angels, demons, or basilisks. In Britain they are known as Jenny Hanivers, perhaps in reference to Antwerp, where they were made by sailors. Dried skates are also known in Mexico, where they are believed to have magical powers, and are used in healing rituals.[17]

British Isles

The Norman chapel in Durham Castle, built around 1078 by Saxon stonemasons, has what is probably the earliest surviving artistic depiction of a mermaid in England.[18] It can be seen on a south-facing capital above one of the original Norman stone pillars.[19]

Zennor Mermaid Chair
The "mermaid chair" at Zennor, Cornwall.

Mermaids appear in British folklore as unlucky omens, both foretelling disaster and provoking it.[20] Several variants of the ballad Sir Patrick Spens depict a mermaid speaking to the doomed ships. In some versions, she tells them they will never see land again; in others, she claims they are near shore, which they are wise enough to know means the same thing. Mermaids can also be a sign of approaching rough weather,[21] and some have been described as monstrous in size, up to 2,000 feet (610 m).[20]

Mermaids have also been described as able to swim up rivers to freshwater lakes. In one story, the Laird of Lorntie went to aid a woman he thought was drowning in a lake near his house; a servant of his pulled him back, warning that it was a mermaid, and the mermaid screamed at them that she would have killed him if it were not for his servant.[22] But mermaids could occasionally be more beneficent; e.g., teaching humans cures for certain diseases.[23] Mermen have been described as wilder and uglier than mermaids, with little interest in humans.[24]

According to legend, a mermaid came to the Cornish village of Zennor where she used to listen to the singing of a chorister, Matthew Trewhella. The two fell in love, and Matthew went with the mermaid to her home at Pendour Cove. On summer nights, the lovers can be heard singing together. At the Church of Saint Senara in Zennor, there is a famous chair decorated by a mermaid carving which is probably six hundred years old.[25]

Some tales raised the question of whether mermaids had immortal souls, answering in the negative.[26] The figure of Lí Ban appears as a sanctified mermaid, but she was a human being transformed into a mermaid. After three centuries, when Christianity had come to Ireland, she was baptized.[27] The Irish mermaid is called merrow in tales such as "Lady of Gollerus" published in the 19th century. In Scottish mythology, a ceasg is a fresh-water mermaid, though little beside the term has been preserved in folklore.[28]

Mermaids from the Isle of Man, known as ben-varrey, are considered more favorable toward humans than those of other regions,[29] with various accounts of assistance, gifts and rewards. One story tells of a fisherman who carried a stranded mermaid back into the sea and was rewarded with the location of treasure. Another recounts the tale of a baby mermaid who stole a doll from a human little girl, but was rebuked by her mother and sent back to the girl with a gift of a pearl necklace to atone for the theft. A third story tells of a fishing family that made regular gifts of apples to a mermaid and was rewarded with prosperity.[29]

Western Europe

Raymond discovers Melusine in her bath. Jean d'Arras, Le livre de Mélusine, 1478.

A freshwater mermaid-like creature from European folklore is Melusine. She is sometimes depicted with two fish tails, or with the lower body of a serpent.[30]

The best-known example of mermaids in literature is probably Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, first published in 1837. In the original story, a young mermaid falls in love with a human prince whom she saves from drowning when his ship is wrecked in a storm. Although her grandmother tells her not to envy humans, who live much shorter lives than mermaids, and whose only consolation is an immortal soul, the mermaid chooses to risk her life in order to be with the prince. She trades her tongue and her beautiful voice to the sea-witch in exchange for a draught that will make her human and allow her to live on land. She will have to rely on her beauty and charm to win the prince's love, as she will be entirely mute.

The sea-witch warns the mermaid that, although she will be graceful, each step will feel as though she is stepping on knives; and that if she does not earn the prince's love, she will die of a broken heart after he weds another. The spell is worked, and the mermaid is found by the prince, who sees the resemblance between her and the one who rescued him from drowning, although he does not realize that they are the same person. Although the prince cares deeply for the mermaid, he is betrothed to the daughter of a neighboring king, and the mermaid cannot prevent their marriage.

The mermaid's sisters trade their beautiful hair to the sea-witch for a knife that the mermaid can use to break the spell and return to the sea. She must kill the prince before dawn on the day after his wedding. But the mermaid still loves the prince and cannot harm him. She flings the knife into the sea and jumps in after it, then begins to dissolve into foam. Then she is transformed into one of the daughters of the air, ethereal beings who strive to earn an immortal soul by doing good deeds in the world of men.[31]

A world-famous statue of the Little Mermaid, based on Andersen's fairy tale, has been in Copenhagen, Denmark since August 1913, with copies in 13 other locations around the world – almost half of them in North America.[32][33][34]

In 1989, Walt Disney Studios released a full-length animated film based on the Andersen fairy tale. Featuring an Academy Award-winning soundtrack with songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman,[35] the film garnered glowing reviews, and was credited with revitalizing both the studio and the concept of animated feature films.[36][37] Notable changes to the plot of Andersen's story include the elimination of the grandmother character and the religious aspects of the fairy tale, including the mermaid's quest to obtain an immortal soul. The sea-witch herself replaces the princess to whom the prince becomes engaged, using the mermaid's voice to prevent her from obtaining the prince's love. However, on their wedding day the plot is revealed, and the sea-witch is vanquished. The knife motif is not used in the film, which ends with the mermaid and the prince marrying.[38] Among other things, the film was praised for portraying the mermaid as an independent and even rebellious young woman, rather than a passive actor content to let others determine her destiny.[39]

Eastern Europe

Ilya Repin - Sadko - Google Art Project levels adjustment 2
Ilya Repin, Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom (1876).

Rusalkas are the Slavic counterpart of the Greek sirens and naiads.[40] The nature of rusalkas varies among folk traditions, but according to ethnologist D.K. Zelenin they all share a common element: they are the restless spirits of the unclean dead.[40] They are usually the ghosts of young women who died a violent or untimely death, perhaps by murder or suicide, before their wedding and especially by drowning. Rusalkas are said to inhabit lakes and rivers. They appear as beautiful young women with long pale green hair and pale skin, suggesting a connection with floating weeds and days spent underwater in faint sunlight. They can be seen after dark, dancing together under the moon and calling out to young men by name, luring them to the water and drowning them. The characterization of rusalkas as both desirable and treacherous is prevalent in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and was emphasized by 19th-century Russian authors.[41][42][43][44] The best-known of the great Czech nationalist composer Antonín Dvořák's operas is Rusalka.

In Sadko (Russian: Садко), an East Slavic epic, the title character—an adventurer, merchant, and gusli musician from Novgorod—lives for some time in the underwater court of the "Sea Tsar" and marries his daughter, Chernava, before finally returning home. The tale inspired such works as the poem "Sadko"[45] by Alexei Tolstoy (1817–75), the opera Sadko composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and the painting by Ilya Repin.


Korea is bounded on three sides by the sea. In some villages near the sea in Korea, there are mysterious stories about mermaids. Mermaids have features just like humans and Kim Dam Ryeong, who was a mayor of the town, saved four captured mermaids from a fisherman, as recorded in the Eou yadam (unofficial histories). In Dongabaek Island of Busan, there's a tale of Princess Hwang-Ok from the kingdom of Naranda, a mythical undersea kingdom of mermaids. Another tale concerns a mermaid named Sinjike who warned fishermen of impending storms by singing and throwing rocks into the sea from Geomun Island. The island's residents believed her to be goddess of the sea and that she could predict the weather.[46]


Mermaids are included in the Shanhaijing (Classic of Mountains and Seas) compilation of Chinese geography and mythology, dating from the 4th century BC. A 15th-century compilation of quotations from Chinese literature tells of a mermaid who "wept tears which became pearls".[47] An early 19th-century book entitled Jottings on the South of China contains two stories about mermaids. In the first, a man captures a mermaid on the shore of Namtao island. She looks human in every respect except that her body is covered with fine hair of many colors. She can't talk, but he takes her home and marries her. After his death, the mermaid returns to the sea where she was found. In the second story, a man sees a woman lying on the beach while his ship was anchored offshore. On closer inspection, her feet and hands appear to be webbed. She is carried to the water, and expresses her gratitude toward the sailors before swimming away.[48]


Suvannamaccha (lit. golden mermaid) is a daughter of Ravana that appears in the Cambodian and Thai versions of the Ramayana. She is a mermaid princess who tries to spoil Hanuman's plans to build a bridge to Lanka but falls in love with him instead. She is a popular figure of Thai folklore.[49]


Mami Water (Lit. "Mother of the Water") are water spirits venerated in west, central and southern Africa, and in the African diaspora in the Caribbean and parts of North and South America. They are usually female, but are sometimes male. They are regarded as diabolical beings, and are often femme fatale, luring men to their deaths.[50] The Persian word "برایم بمان" or "maneli" means "mermaid".[51]


The Neo-Taíno nations of the Caribbean identify a mermaid called Aycayia[52][53] with attributes of the goddess Jagua and the hibiscus flower of the majagua tree Hibiscus tiliaceus.[54] In modern Caribbean culture, there is a mermaid recognized as a Haitian vodou loa called La Sirene (lit. "the mermaid"), representing wealth, beauty and the orisha Yemaya.

Examples from other cultures are the jengu of Cameroon, the iara of Brazil and the Greek oceanids, nereids and naiads. The ningyo is a fishlike creature from Japanese folklore, and consuming its flesh bestows amazing longevity. Mermaids and mermen are also characters of Philippine folklore, where they are locally known as sirena and siyokoy respectively.[55] The Javanese people believe that the southern beach in Java is a home of Javanese mermaid queen Nyi Roro Kidul.[56] The myth of "Pania of the Reef", a well known tale of Māori mythology, has many parallels with stories of sea-people in other parts of the world.

According to Dorothy Dinnerstein's book The Mermaid and the Minotaur, human-animal hybrids such as mermaids and minotaurs convey the emergent understanding of the ancients that human beings were both one with and different from animals:

[Human] nature is internally inconsistent, that our continuities with, and our differences from, the earth's other animals are mysterious and profound; and in these continuities, and these differences, lie both a sense of strangeness on earth and the possible key to a way of feeling at home here."[57]

Reported sightings

In 1493, sailing off the coast of Hispaniola, Christopher Columbus reported seeing three "female forms" which "rose high out of the sea, but were not as beautiful as they are represented".[58][59] The logbook of Blackbeard, an English pirate, records that he instructed his crew on several voyages to steer away from charted waters which he called "enchanted" for fear of merfolk or mermaids, which Blackbeard himself and members of his crew reported seeing.[60] These sightings were often recounted and shared by sailors and pirates who believed that mermaids brought bad luck and would bewitch them into giving up their gold and dragging them to the bottom of the sea. Two sightings were reported in Canada near Vancouver and Victoria, one from sometime between 1870 and 1890, the other from 1967.[61][62] A Pennsylvania fisherman reported five sightings of a mermaid in the Susquehanna River near Marietta in June 1881.[63]

In August 2009, after dozens of people reported seeing a mermaid leaping out of Haifa Bay waters and doing aerial tricks, the Israeli coastal town of Kiryat Yam offered a $1 million award for proof of its existence.[64] In February 2012, work on two reservoirs near Gokwe and Mutare in Zimbabwe stopped when workers refused to continue, stating that mermaids had hounded them away from the sites. It was reported by Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, the water resources minister.[65]

Hoaxes and scientific opinion

In the middle of the 17th century, John Tradescant the elder created a wunderkammer (called Tradescant's Ark) in which he displayed, among other things, a "mermaid's hand".[66] P. T. Barnum's 19th century taxidermal hoax called the Fiji mermaid has been mentioned above. Others have perpetrated similar hoaxes, which are usually papier-mâché fabrications or parts of deceased creatures, usually monkeys and fish, stitched together for the appearance of a grotesque mermaid. In the wake of the 2004 tsunami, pictures of Fiji "mermaids" circulated on the Internet as supposed examples of items that had washed up amid the devastation, though they were no more real than Barnum's exhibit.[67]

The topic of mermaids has arisen in several instances of scientific scrutiny, including a biological assessment of the unlikelihood of the supposed evolutionary biology of the mermaid on the popular marine science website, DeepSeaNews. Five of the primary reasons listed as to why mermaids don't fit current evolutionary understanding include: 1) thermoregulation (adaptations for regulating body heat), 2) evolutionary mismatch, 3) reproductive challenges, 4) digestive differences between mammals and fish, and 5) lack of physical evidence.[68] Mermaids were also visited in a tongue-in-cheek scientific article by University of Washington emeritus oceanographer Karl Banse. His article was written as a parody, but mistaken as a true scientific exposé by believers as it was published in a scientific journal.[69]

Arts, entertainment, and media

Rhinegold and the Valkyries p 072
Arthur Rackham, Rhinemaidens, from The Rhinegold & The Valkyrie (1910).

Famous in more recent centuries is the fairy tale "The Little Mermaid" (1836) by Hans Christian Andersen, whose works have been translated into over 100 languages.[70] The mermaid (as conceived by Andersen) is similar to an Undine, a water nymph in German folklore who could only obtain an immortal soul by marrying a human being.[71] Andersen's heroine inspired a bronze sculpture in Copenhagen harbour and influenced Western literary works such as Oscar Wilde's The Fisherman and His Soul and H.G. Wells' The Sea Lady.[72] Sue Monk Kidd wrote a book called The Mermaid Chair loosely based on the legends of Saint Senara and the mermaid of Zennor.

Sculptures and statues of mermaids can be found in many countries and cultures, with over 130 public art mermaid statues across the world. Countries with public art mermaid sculptures include Russia, Finland, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Denmark, Norway, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, India, China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Guam, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Saudi Arabia (Jeddah), the United States (including Hawaii and Virgin Islands) and Canada.[73] Some of these mermaid statues have become icons of their city or country, and have become major tourist attractions in themselves. The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen is an icon of that city as well as of Denmark. The Havis Amanda statue symbolizes the rebirth of the city of Helsinki, capital of Finland. The Syrenka (mermaid) is part of the Coat of Arms of Warsaw, and is considered a protector of Warsaw, capital of Poland, which publicly displays statues of their mermaid.

Musical depictions of mermaids include those by Felix Mendelssohn in his Fair Melusina overture and the three "Rhine daughters" in Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Lorelei, the name of a Rhine mermaid immortalized in the Heinrich Heine poem of that name, has become a synonym for a siren. The Weeping Mermaid is an orchestral piece by Taiwanese composer Fan-Long Ko.[74]

An influential image was created by John William Waterhouse, from 1895 to 1905, entitled A Mermaid. An example of late British Academy style artwork, the piece debuted to considerable acclaim (and secured Waterhouse's place as a member of the Royal Academy), but disappeared into a private collection and did not resurface until the 1970s. It is currently once again in the Royal Academy's collection.[75] Mermaids were a favorite subject of John Reinhard Weguelin, a contemporary of Waterhouse. He painted an image of the mermaid of Zennor as well as several other depictions of mermaids in watercolour.

Film depictions include the romantic comedy Splash (1984) and Aquamarine (2006). A 1963 episode of the television series Route 66 entitled "The Cruelest Sea" featured a mermaid performance artist working at Weeki Wachee aquatic park. Mermaids also appeared in the popular supernatural drama television series Charmed, and were the basis of its spin-off series Mermaid. In She Creature (2001), two carnival workers abduct a mermaid in Ireland c. 1900 and attempt to transport her to America. The film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides mixes old and new myths about mermaids: singing to sailors to lure them to their death, growing legs when taken onto dry land, and bestowing kisses with magical healing properties. Animated films include Disney's musical version of Andersen's tale, The Little Mermaid, and Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo. The Australian teen dramedy H2O: Just Add Water chronicles the adventures of three modern-day mermaids along the Gold Coast of Australia.


POL Warszawa COA 1
Arms of Warsaw.

In heraldry, the charge of a mermaid is commonly represented with a comb and a mirror,[76] and blazoned as a "mermaid in her vanity".[77] In addition to vanity, mermaids are also a symbol of eloquence.[78]

A shield and sword-wielding mermaid (Syrenka) is on the official coat of arms of Warsaw.[79] Images of a mermaid have symbolized Warsaw on its arms since the middle of the 14th century.[80] Several legends associate Triton of Greek mythology with the city, which may have been the origin of the mermaid's association.[81]

The Cusack family crest includes a mermaid wielding a sword, as depicted on a memorial stone for Sir Thomas Cusack (1490–1571).[82] [83]

The city of Norfolk, Virginia, also uses a mermaid as a symbol. The personal coat of arms of Michaëlle Jean, a former Governor General of Canada, features two mermaids as supporters.[84]

Mermaid fandom

Interest in mermaid costuming has grown alongside the popularity of fantasy cosplay as well as the availability of inexpensive monofins used in the construction of mermaid costumes. These costumes are typically designed to be used while swimming, in an activity known as mermaiding. Mermaid fandom conventions have also been held.[85][86]

Human divers

The Ama are Japanese skin divers, predominantly women, who traditionally dive for shellfish and seaweed wearing only a loincloth and who have been in action for at least 2,000 years. Starting in the twentieth century, they have increasingly been regarded as a tourist attraction.[87] They operate off reefs near the shore, and some perform for sightseers instead of diving to collect a harvest. They have been romanticized as mermaids.[88]

Professional female divers have performed as mermaids at Florida's Weeki Wachee Springs since 1947. The state park calls itself "The Only City of Live Mermaids"[89] and was extremely popular in the 1960s, drawing almost one million tourists per year.[90] Most of the current performers work part-time while attending college, and all are certified Scuba divers. They wear fabric tails and perform aquatic ballet (while holding their breath) for an audience in an underwater stage with glass walls. Children often ask if the "mermaids" are real. The park's PR director says "Just like with Santa Claus or any other mythical character, we always say yes. We're not going to tell them they're not real".[91]


Rio mau sereia

Mermaid carved on a capital of the Rio Mau Monastic church (1151).

Mermaid in Santo Domingo church (Pontevedra, Galicia)

A stone coat of arms in Santo Domingo church (Pontevedra, Galicia), 16th century.

Mermaid in Fefiñans Manor house (Cambados, Galicia)

Mermaid in Fefiñans Manor house (Cambados, Galicia), 16th century.

A most strange and true report of a monsterous fish. 1604 rotated

'A most strange and true report of a monstrous fish' Illustration from an early printed report of a Mermaid sighting. 1604

Golden Mermaid on Prince Frederick's Barge 1732

English carved decoration by James Richards on Prince Frederick's Barge, 1731–1732

Igreja Matriz Povoa Varzim Sereia

Portuguese Baroque stonework in Póvoa de Varzim Matriz Church (1743-1757)


Fountain depicting a mermaid playing a guitar, located in the Museum of the City of Mexico (17th century)

Mariño's coat of arms with mermaid (Mugardos, Galicia)

A stone coat of arms in (Mugardos, Galicia), 18th century

Vanity Fair D467

Illustration from Vanity Fair, Becky Sharp as a mermaid


Mermaid and merman, 1866. Unknown Russian folk artist

Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann havfruen

Havfrue, by Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann (1873)

Arnold Böcklin 001

The Play of the Naiads, by Arnold Böcklin (1886)

John Collier - The Land Baby

The Land Baby, by John Collier (1899)

The Mermaid of Zennor

The Mermaid of Zennor by John Reinhard Weguelin (1900)


The Mermaid, by Howard Pyle (1910)

The Mermaid and the Satyr

The Mermaid and the Satyr, by Ferdinand Leeke (1917)

Auburtin - Mermaids

Mermaids, by Jean Francis Aubertin (circa 1920)

The Little Mermaid's Sisters - Anne Anderson

The Little Mermaid's Sisters by Anne Anderson (circa 1910)

The Little Mermaid

Illustration of The Little Mermaid by E. S. Hardy (circa 1890)

Copenhagen - the little mermaid statue - 2013

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen (1913)

Songkhla mermaid - panoramio

The mermaid of the Phra Aphai Mani legend in Songkhla, Thailand (2006)

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Mermaid". Dictionaries. Oxford. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  2. ^ "Mermaid". Online Etymology Dictionary.
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  4. ^ "Experts: Sea cow 'sirens' fuel mermaid mythology; sailors' deprivation sparked images". Underwater times. December 25, 2005. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
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External links

Ariel (The Little Mermaid)

Ariel is a fictional character and the title character of Walt Disney Pictures' 28th animated film The Little Mermaid (1989). She subsequently appears in the film's prequel television series (1992—1994), direct-to-video sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000), and direct-to-video prequel The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (2008). Ariel is voiced by Jodi Benson in all official animated appearances and merchandise. She is fourth in the Disney Princess lineup, the first nonhuman princess, and the only princess to become a mother to her own child.

Ariel has a distinctive appearance, with her long, flowing, bright red hair, blue eyes, green mermaid tail and purple seashell bikini top. In the films and television series, she is the seventh-born daughter of King Triton and Queen Athena of an underwater kingdom of Merfolk called Atlantica. She is often rebellious, and in the first film, she longs to be a part of the human world. She marries Prince Eric, whom she rescued from a shipwreck, and together they have a daughter, Melody.The character is based on the title character of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" story but was developed into a different personality for the 1989 animated film adaptation. Ariel has received a mixed reception from critics; some publications such as Time criticize her for being too devoted to Eric whereas others, such as Empire, praise the character for her rebellious personality, a departure from previous Disney Princesses.

County Wicklow

County Wicklow (Irish: Contae Chill Mhantáin, [ˈkɔnˠt̪ˠeː ˈçɪl̪ʲ ˈwanˠt̪ˠaːnʲ]) is a county in Ireland. The last of the traditional 32 counties to be formed, as late as 1606, it is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Wicklow, which derives from the Old Norse name Víkingaló, which means "Vikings' Meadow". Wicklow County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county was 142,425 at the 2016 census.

Wicklow is colloquially known as "the Garden of Ireland". It is the 17th-largest of Ireland's 32 counties by area, being thirty-three miles in length by twenty miles in breadth, and 16th-largest by population. It is the fourth-largest of Leinster's twelve counties by size and the fifth-largest in terms of population. The adjoining counties are Wexford to the south, Carlow to the south-west, Kildare to the west and Dublin to the north.

List of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes

SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated television series created by marine biologist and animator, Stephen Hillenburg for Nickelodeon. The series is set in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom, and centers on the adventures and endeavors of SpongeBob SquarePants, an over-optimistic sea sponge that annoys other characters. Many of the ideas for the show originated in an unpublished, educational comic book titled The Intertidal Zone, which Hillenburg created in the mid-1980s. He began developing SpongeBob SquarePants into a television series in 1996 after the cancellation of Rocko's Modern Life, another Nickelodeon television series that Hillenburg previously directed.Since its debut on May 1, 1999, SpongeBob SquarePants has broadcast 244 episodes, and its twelfth season premiered on November 11, 2018. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, a feature-length film, was released in theaters on November 19, 2004 and grossed over US$140 million worldwide. Atlantis SquarePantis, a television film guest starring David Bowie, debuted as part of the fifth season. In 2009, Nickelodeon celebrated the show's tenth anniversary with Square Roots: The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants and SpongeBob's Truth or Square. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, a stand-alone sequel, was released in theaters on February 6, 2015 and grossed over US$324 million worldwide.Episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants have been nominated for a variety of different awards, including 17 Annie Awards (with six wins), 17 Golden Reel Awards (with eight wins), 15 Emmy Awards (with one win), 16 Kids' Choice Awards (with 15 wins), and four BAFTA Children's Awards (with two wins). Several compilation DVDs have been released. In addition, the first nine seasons have been released on DVD, and are available for Regions 1, 2 and 4 as of October 10, 2017.

List of The Little Mermaid characters

This article lists information of animated and was made by Hans Christian Andersen original characters from Disney's The Little Mermaid franchise, covering the 1989 film, its prequel TV series, its direct-to-video sequel and prequel films, and the stage musical adaptation.

Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy

Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are fictional characters in the Nickelodeon animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants. Mermaid Man was voiced by Ernest Borgnine and Barnacle Boy was voiced by Tim Conway. Following Borgnine's death in 2012, the characters were reduced to non-speaking roles. They are a spoof of both Aquaman & Aqualad and Batman & Robin. The characters debuted on August 21, 1999 in the series' episode "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy".

Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch

Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch (マーメイドメロディーぴちぴちピッチ, Māmeido Merodī Pichi Pichi Pitchi) is a shōjo manga and anime series created by Michiko Yokote, with artwork by Pink Hanamori. The manga was originally published in the monthly shōjo manga anthology Nakayoshi. There are 32 chapters published (including two special stories) and are compiled into seven volumes issued by Kodansha.

A 91-episode anime series was produced by TV Aichi, divided into two seasons, aired in Japan from April 2003 to December 2004. The first season is composed of 52 episodes, while the second, entitled Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch Pure, lasted for 39.

Mermaid Saga

Mermaid Saga (Japanese: 人魚シリーズ, Hepburn: Ningyo Shirīzu) is a series of manga graphic novels in three volumes by Rumiko Takahashi. Two of the stories from the series, Mermaid's Forest and Mermaid's Scar, have been adapted as anime OVAs, and all of the tales, except one, were later produced as an anime television series.

Mermaid Theatre

The Mermaid Theatre was a theatre encompassing the site of Puddle Dock and Curriers' Alley at Blackfriars in the City of London, and the first built in the City since the time of Shakespeare. It was, importantly, also one of the first new theatres to abandon the traditional stage layout; instead a single tier of seats surrounded the stage on three sides.

My Bride is a Mermaid

My Bride Is a Mermaid (Japanese: 瀬戸の花嫁, Hepburn: Seto no Hanayome, lit. "The Inland Sea Bride") is a Japanese manga series written by Tahiko Kimura. The manga was serialized between the September 2002 and May 2009 issues of Monthly Gangan Wing, and the June and December 2010 issues of Monthly Gangan Joker, both published by Square Enix. In 2004, a drama CD based on the series was released by Frontier Works. A 26-episode anime television series adaptation animated by Gonzo, directed by Seiji Kishi, and written by Makoto Uezu aired in Japan on TV Tokyo between April and September 2007. Two original video animation episodes were released in November 2008 and January 2009. Odex, a Singaporean distributor, released it in English in Singapore as Seto No Hana Yome. The anime was licensed for a North American distribution by Funimation Entertainment and was released in July and September 2010 under the title My Bride Is a Mermaid!.

Sebastian (The Little Mermaid)

Sebastian is an animated anthropomorphic crab in The Little Mermaid film series from the Caribbean island of Jamaica, and is a servant of King Triton. Apart from his role in the film trilogy, Sebastian features in the animated series, in the Kingdom Hearts series of video games, and even has music albums based on him.

SpongeBob SquarePants (season 1)

The first season of the American animated television sitcom SpongeBob SquarePants, created by former marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg, aired from May 1, 1999 to April 8, 2000, and consists of 20 episodes (41 segments). Its first season originally broadcast on Nickelodeon. The series chronicles the exploits and adventures of the title character and his various friends in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom. The show features the voices of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Mr. Lawrence, Jill Talley, Carolyn Lawrence, Mary Jo Catlett, and Lori Alan. Among the first guest stars to appear on the show were Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway voicing the superhero characters of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, respectively.

Hillenburg initially conceived the show in 1984 and began to work on it shortly after the cancellation of Rocko's Modern Life in 1996. To voice the character of SpongeBob, Hillenburg approached Tom Kenny, who had worked with him on Rocko's Modern Life. The show was originally to be called SpongeBoy Ahoy!, but the name SpongeBoy was already in use for a mop product. Upon finding it out, Hillenburg decided to use the name "SpongeBob". He chose "SquarePants" as a family name as it referred to the character's square shape and it had a "nice ring to it".Several compilation DVDs that contained episodes from the season were released. The SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 1st Season DVD was released in Region 1 on October 28, 2003, Region 2 on November 7, 2005, and Region 4 on November 30, 2006. The pilot episode, "Help Wanted", was not included on the DVD due to copyright issues with the song "Living in the Sunlight" by Tiny Tim, which appears in the episode, but was later released as a bonus feature on various series DVDs, including that of the third season. The season received positive reviews from media critics upon release.

The Little Mermaid

"The Little Mermaid" (Danish: Den lille havfrue) is a fairy tale written by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. The story follows the journey of a young mermaid who is willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul. The tale was first published in 1837 as part of a collection of fairy tales for children. The original story has been a subject of multiple analyses by scholars such as Jacob Bøggild and Pernille Heegaard as well as the folklorist Maria Tatar. These analyses cover various aspects of the story from interpreting the themes to discussing why Andersen chose to write a tragic story with a happy ending. It has been adapted to various media, including musical theatre, anime and a Disney animated film. There is also a statue portraying the mermaid in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the story was written and first published.

The Little Mermaid (1989 film)

The Little Mermaid is a 1989 American animated musical romantic fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Pictures. The 28th Disney animated feature film, the film is loosely based on the Danish fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. The film tells the story of a mermaid princess named Ariel who dreams of becoming human, after falling in love with a human prince named Eric. Written and directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, with music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (who also served as co-producer alongside John Musker), and art direction by Michael Peraza Jr. and Donald A. Towns, the film features the voices of Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Pat Carroll, Samuel E. Wright, Jason Marin, Kenneth Mars, Buddy Hackett, and René Auberjonois.

The Little Mermaid was released to theaters on November 17, 1989 to largely positive reviews, garnering $84 million at the domestic box office during its initial release, and $211 million in total lifetime gross worldwide. After the success of the 1988 Disney/Amblin film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid is given credit for breathing life back into the art of Disney animated feature films after a string of critical or commercial failures produced by Disney that dated back to the early 1970s. It also marked the start of the era known as the Disney Renaissance. The film won two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“Under the Sea”).

A stage adaptation of the film with a book by Doug Wright and additional songs by Alan Menken and new lyricist Glenn Slater opened in Denver in July 2007 and began performances on Broadway January 10, 2008 starring Sierra Boggess.In May 2016, Disney announced that a live-action adaptation is currently in development.

The Little Mermaid (TV series)

Disney's The Little Mermaid is an American animated television series produced by Walt Disney Television Animation based on the 1989 Disney film of the same name. It features the adventures of Ariel as a mermaid prior to the events of the film. This series is the first Disney television series to be spun off from a major animated film. Some of the voice actors of the film reprise their roles in the series, among them Jodi Benson as Ariel, Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian, Kenneth Mars as King Triton and Pat Carroll as Ursula. Other voice actors include Edan Gross and Bradley Pierce as Flounder, and Jeff Bennett as Prince Eric.

The Little Mermaid premiered in the fall of 1992 with the animated prime time special called "A Whale of a Tale", then moved to Saturday mornings. This series originally appeared on CBS, with an original run from 1992 to 1994 (prior to Disney's purchase of rival ABC). Disney Channel reran the series from October 2nd, 1995 to September 29th, 2002 and again from September 5th, 2006, to July 4th, 2010. Some of the episodes contain musical segments, featuring original songs written for the series. The opening theme to the show is an instrumental combination of the songs "Part of Your World", "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl". The overture for the stage musical of The Little Mermaid is similar to this.

The Little Mermaid (musical)

The Little Mermaid is a stage musical produced by Disney Theatrical, based on the animated 1989 Disney film of the same name and the classic story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen about a mermaid who dreams of the world above the sea and gives up her voice to find love. Its book is by Doug Wright, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman (written for the film), with additional lyrics by Glenn Slater. Its underwater setting and story about aquatic characters requires unusual technical designs and strategies to create gliding movements for the actors.

After a pre-Broadway tryout in Denver, Colorado from July to September 2007, the musical began Broadway previews on November 3, 2007 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, replacing Disney's Beauty and the Beast. The production officially opened on January 10, 2008 and closed on August 30, 2009 after 685 performances and 50 previews. It introduced Broadway debuts by director Francesca Zambello and Sierra Boggess in the title role.

Subsequent productions have been seen in US regional theatres and internationally. A modified version of the musical with a new book and direction by Glenn Casale was developed in 2012, and this version is the basis for subsequent productions.

The Little Mermaid (statue)

The Little Mermaid (Danish: Den lille Havfrue) is a bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen, depicting a mermaid becoming human. The sculpture is displayed on a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is 1.25 metres (4.1 ft) tall and weighs 175 kilograms (385 lb).Based on the fairy tale of the same name by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, the small and unimposing statue is a Copenhagen icon and has been a major tourist attraction since its unveiling in 1913. In recent decades it has become a popular target for defacement by vandals and political activists.

Mermaid is among iconic statues that symbolize cities; others include: Manneken Pis in Brussels, the Statue of Liberty in New York and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. In several cases, cities have commissioned statues for such a purpose, such as with Singapore's Merlion.

Related articles
Royalty in folklore
Royalty in literature
Fairylands in folklore
Fairies in culture


See also:

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white rendering)
See also

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