ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why do people want to believe in mermaids? Are mermaids real?

Updated on November 11, 2016

Mermaids in legend and myth

Everyone knows what a mermaid looks like. They are the half-woman and half-fish mythological beings of folklore and fairy tales but people have believed that mermaids are real. It seems likely that the appeal a mermaid has is due to their great beauty and other-worldliness Mermaids have often been the subjects for artists and painters.

Author William Bond has a theory that explains what mermaids really are and how the legends about them got started but more about William and his idea later on. First of all let us look at one conventional explanation.

Mermaid painting

Mermaid by the late Janice Pugsley
Mermaid by the late Janice Pugsley | Source

Manatees, Dugongs and Sea Cows

It has often been suggested that mermaids were actually the marine mammals known as Dugongs and Manatees or Sea Cows. These creatures are somewhat similar to seals but uglier and it is hard to believe that such an animal could ever be mistaken for a beautiful woman from the sea but that is the idea put forward. It is said that sailors at sea, deprived of real women, could have seen these creatures and their minds played tricks on them and converted the marine animal into a human woman but with the tail of a fish.

If you look at a photo of a dugong or manatee though, it is very hard to accept this explanation unless the sailors were hallucinating at the time. These animals are very fat and have flippers in place of hands and broad faces and mouths they use for grazing on seaweeds. They do not look anything like the beautiful women with long hair we see in traditional pictures of mermaids.

Dugongs are in a family of animals known to scientists as the Sirenia, and Sirens are also mythical women who were said to lure sailors to their doom. They are written about in Greek mythology and were said to entice foolish mariners with their singing and enchanting music. The sailors lured by the Sirens would shipwreck their boats by crashing into rocks they saw and heard these femme fatales singing from.

Manatee

Photo of a Manatee
Photo of a Manatee | Source

Mermaid sightings

So when and where have there been reported sightings of mermaids?

Wikipedia tells us that way back “In 1493 while sailing off the coast ofHispaniola, Christopher Columbus reported seeing three "female forms" which "rose high out of the sea, but were not as beautiful as they are represented".

And also the site reports that ‘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...”’

There are far more recent mermaid sightings too though. In August 2009, following reports that very many people had said they had seen a mermaid jumping out of the water and doing various tricks, the Israeli coastal town of Kiryat Yam put up a $1,000,000 award for evidence that this had really happened.

Then in February 2012, work on two reservoirsin Zimbabwe had to be stopped because workers there wouldn’t carry on with the job they were doing because they claimed that mermaids had hounded them away from where they had been working..

Mermaids in films

Mermaids make great subjects for screenwriters and film-makers. Splash was a 1984 American comedy and fantasy movie about a mermaid played by Daryl Hannah. A beautiful actress playing the part of a mermaid was sure to be a winner as a movie.

Mermaids have also been the subject of a recent television documentary on Animal Planet.

Mermaids are real!

Warsaw coat-of-arms

Warsaw Coat-of-arms with a mermaid
Warsaw Coat-of-arms with a mermaid | Source

Mermaids in heraldry

Mermaids have even been included in heraldic images such as the Coat-of-Arms of Warsaw in Poland that features one.

The mermaid depicted in the Polish shield is brandishing a sword and carrying a shield. This is no soft and feminine mermaid but more like a warrior.

Perhaps this is not that surprising though because other legendary creatures from myth and folklore often appear in heraldry too. Dragons and unicorns are not real as far as we know but you will find them in coats-of-arms and on shields.

William Bond's theory

William Bond, who is also known for writing about and advocating matriarchy, thinks that the origin of the beliefs in mermaids was started by very real breath-holding skin divers, such as the Ana of Japan. Most of these divers are women and they wear only a loin-cloth when they dive down searching for pearls shellfish and seaweeds. This practice dates back at least 2,000 years.

Bond believes that breath-holding diving was once far more common around the world but had been stamped out by the rise of patriarchal culture that did not want to show that women were good at doing anything better than men. It is believed by the Japanese that women are better equipped at staying longer in cold water due to the distribution of fat on their bodies.

He also writes about Elaine Morgan's controversial 'Aquatic Ape' theory which puts forward the idea that humans evolved from apes that became amphibious and spent a lot of their time in the sea. This is why their bodies are not covered in hair because it would make it more difficult for them to swim. Also it is known that marine animals can shed tears. Because humans can is given as another link with the sea and as evidence of their evolution that was prompted by a marine environment.

William’s explanation for mermaids being women divers is a good one and certainly makes a lot more sense than the idea that mermaids were dugongs and manatees that sailors had mistakenly thought were these women from the sea. What do you think? Do you believe in mermaids?

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Peter Kvint profile image

      Peter Kvint 

      5 years ago

      Should the male artists say no to an opportunity to draw / shaping women's breasts? Particularly dangerous seductive women who drown men in love?

      Mermaids are real, but in the reality they have two legs, to trick men.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you for commenting!

    • profile image

      Ausseye 

      5 years ago

      Hi BardofMaid:

      The mystery is but a(mmm no the next one )---ripple in time!! So much happens at sea and one can but imagine the mind, full of possibilities. Mind you your story of strong Japanese women rings true, damn they can’t be better than us imagining males….holding you breath for some time can be as good as any drug impact), sending the brain in all sorts of directions. Love the rage of possibilities, a universal mystery that may one day come true with the right DNA. I live for the day beauty has its limits for us men!!! Hey great hub full of treacherous water and rock bottom when it comes to equality, women get the upper hand and make us wrecks in our time. We’ve done it to them for ages, that’s why it’s a ageless tale. An avid reader.

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you!

    • CarNoobz profile image

      CarNoobz 

      5 years ago from USA

      "Why do people want to believe in mermaids?"

      Cuz they're HOT, dude! hahaha.

      Voted up

    • Bard of Ely profile imageAUTHOR

      Steve Andrews 

      5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks for your feedback, Sparkster!

    • sparkster profile image

      Sparkster Publishing 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Interesting, I saw something in the news yesterday about somewhere where they are offering something like a million dollar/pound reward for anyone who finds evidence of a mermaid which had supposedly been seen by many witnesses in that area.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)