"Mermaids: The Body Found" on the Animal Planet. Fact or Fiction?

The Animal Planets "Mermaids - The Body Found"
The Animal Planets "Mermaids - The Body Found" | Source

If you were like millions of others, you may have watched the Animals Planet's “Mermaids – The Body Found”. Given that the documentary was broadcast on the Animal Planet, it would be safe to assume that you were going to be watching an interesting scientific exploration of the possible existence of a previously unknown species that resembled the mythical mermaid. Rather than a scientific documentary, we were offered a Blair Witch type drama that portrayed a government cover-up of the existence of an aquatic ape, an evolutionary tract that saw some prehistoric apes take to the sea and therefore evolve into aquatic mammals.

The idea of an aquatic ape made for an interesting concept, and the Animal Planet was able to draw in viewers with this intriguing idea. Coupled with the scientific credibility we normally associate with the channel, it seemed that we would be watching a very interesting exploration of evidence in support of the aquatic ape theory. As "proof," we were even offered a video of the “body” of one of the “mermaids” as filmed through the lens of a teenage boy’s camera phone. In reality, the documentary was nothing more than a fictional piece that exploited our assumption that Animal Planet was an educational channel.

Replete with CGI throughout, and cut-always to “scientists” who discussed their findings of a mermaid body, the show did smack of the normal Animal Planet production formula. As a critical viewer, you would no doubt have been watching the entire show wondering if the production was just a little too sharp and a little too scripted. It was not until the end when the viewer was shown the entire video of the living mermaid that it became clear that the documentary was actually a mockumentary. As the young men surveyed the remains of the purported mermaid, it raised its head with a scream and it became immediately clear that even this “actual” footage was nothing more that CGI. In the end, the show was little more than a joke on the viewers. It is unfortunate that the Animal Planet did not make it clear that they were offering an interesting science fiction story rather than an actual documentary.

For those who took the time to watch “Mermaids: – the Body Found”, it seemed like a cheap con intended to grab viewers. In the end, it seems that the Animal Planet will take a hit to their credibility not because they offered a fun and interesting fictional story, but because they did not warn their viewers of what they would actually be watching. Indeed, since the broadcast, Animal Planet has offered that "Mermaids: The Body Found" documentary is "for entertainment only." Clearly the story was interesting and fun, but it disingenuous to have portrayed this program as a factual documentary. It does seem that Animal Planet may have taken a hit to its credibility by failing to properly warn its viewers that they were presenting a fictional piece, while having promoted it as a fact based production. This is a case of, viewer be ware.

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Comments 18 comments

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flashmakeit 4 years ago from usa

CGI is powerful and very interesting to me. It was just for entertainment although they should have warned people in advance because young children may have really believe this short film was true.

T. R. Brown profile image

T. R. Brown 4 years ago from Nashville, TN Author

CGI is definitely cool. My biggest complaint is that the "documentary" was never described as a fictional piece. Even in the closing credits. Just a bit disappointing for a normally fact based broadcaster.

Thanks very much for reading and commenting!

Lisa Renee 4 years ago

at the end of the program there is a paragraph i have been trying to read but it goes to quickly for me to read, any one else see this?

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T. R. Brown 4 years ago from Nashville, TN Author


I didn't see the paragraph, but I think I have this on my DVR, so I will try to take a look. I was certainly reading the credits pretty closely to see if they made any admission, and I didn't see anything that indicated this was fiction. It's worth another look.

Dustin 4 years ago

Everyone in my school thinks this thing is real.I kept trying to tell them it's fake but they wouldnt believe me.So...if any of my classmates are looking at this then I have to say,I TOLD YOU SO!!!

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T. R. Brown 4 years ago from Nashville, TN Author


Way to be skeptical. You will be served well with that kind of critical thinking.

Thanks for reading

Tuia 4 years ago

How do we know that the people stating this is fictional, aren't trying to cover this back up? Interesting points made throughout the documentary. Not saying its fact or fiction but it does make the mind wonder.

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T. R. Brown 4 years ago from Nashville, TN Author


The Animal Planet actually explained that the piece was for entertainment only. My problem wasn't with the show; it was that it wasn't property disclaimed.

Thanks very much for reading and taking the time to comment!

Kyle 4 years ago

I watched this with my 9 yr old daughter and while I was skeptical throughout because the "scientists" just seemed too much like actors. Plus they were too good looking. No offense to real scientists but they aren't usually too worried about their looks. That "anthropologist" from SA? She looked like a freakin super model, lol. But the kicker was the cell phone video. Forget about the obvious CGI and the fact the kid gets grabbed by a sea creature that looks like a human and doesn't even scream. If i'm remembering right, and I think I am, cellphones in '05 didn't take video like that. Anyway, it was interesting but we did wonder at the time if it was based on someone's story. I'll be sure to pass on to my daughter that it was all made up.

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T. R. Brown 4 years ago from Nashville, TN Author


Your comment on the scientists being too good looking made me laugh at loud.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Mj 4 years ago

I believe that it was true,

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taras3 4 years ago

Interesting story, but I am PISSED... watched the whole thing and then started posting on Facebook, not knowing it was fictional... they should have put a LARGER disclaimer, "purely fictional story". I'll get over it, but this is going to hurt their credibility. Viewers thought they were viewing a real scientific documentary.

Cookie 4 years ago

Yeah, I was just watching it and after 13 mins, I was feeling the falseness in the scientists. I could tell it was acting. So I googled the show and was disapointed big time.

Keep in mind THEY DID IT ON PURPOSE having just a brief disclaimer. All in the name of ratings.

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T. R. Brown 4 years ago from Nashville, TN Author


I think the disclaimer was actually added after the first run of the show, which is of course, even worse. I actually tried to find a disclaimer on the original run and couldn't find it. The Animal Channel was fairly coy about it the first day or two after the first run, until they were ultimately pressured to come totally clean.

believer 4 years ago

Its all based off the truth, and if their evidence wasnt stolen by the government then this show WOULD of come out as total facts... but in this case, since they no longer have physical 'proof', they just had to put it out as "theories" ...but if you open your heart and mind you will see and sense the truth within the whole story, we are not the only conscious beings on this earth, or even in this universe... we need to accept there are things going on that we're not aware of, but we're OPEN to ^_^ instead of dismissing every new idea thrown our way we should open our minds and embrace them! For there is SO much more truth to be found out there (: Always keep believin and never stop searchin for the TRUH

zdreamer25@aol.com 4 years ago

I am helping elementary school students with their, student written, school newspaper. One of the students brought me an article to prove there are mermaids. He cited Animal Planet as his source. Obviously he didn't realize this was a mockumentary.

Gagan 3 years ago

Does this mean the footage of fishermen almost catching a mermaid type creature is also fake ?

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T. R. Brown 3 years ago from Nashville, TN Author

Apparently, yes. After some time, they admitted that the footage was all a dramatization.

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