By AL J. Vermette

       As you look over the side of the deck, you gaze into the deep blue sea. All seems to be normal as the
waves pass by the hull of your small and fast fishing boat. Your mates have pulled in a fair amount of tuna
over the past few hours and it’s almost time to return to shore. Then you hear the cries of one of your men
as he pulls in the last of your fishing nets. At first you can’t make out the words, but suddenly its all clear
when you see what your net has pulled up from the ocean depths.

       There to your disbelieving eyes is a creature unlike anything you have ever seen before. A beast with
a human head, arms and torso but the lower half of that of a fish as your men are screaming and you try
and figure out just what the hell in god’s name you just pulled out of the deep as it glares upon you with very
human eyes.

       Ever since the time that man has took to the sea for exploration, food and discovery of the watery
world, there have been stories of unknown sea creatures that rise up from the depths. Stories of sea
monsters are as old as time itself and as new species are discovered and labeled all the time such as the
Mega Mouth Shark discovered over 40 years ago or the Giant Squid once thought to be only myth was
shown to be very much real. But some creatures of the deep still remain as monsters of lore and tall tales.
One such creature has become known for its beauty along with its oddness as it’s the most human of all
the mythical sea creatures. It has become known as the Mermaid and stories of seeing these half human,
half fish creature’s dates back as far as man first took to the sea. Even explorer Christopher Columbus
saw something in the Caribbean that he said was a Mermaid.

       So then.....what the hell are these sailors seeing out in the middle of the oceans and why are these
creature so human like and yet…..not. Are they just lonely men on long voyages seeing young pretty girls in
places where they just cannot be or is it something else out there that people have claimed to see even
today in the 21st Century.

       Most often the creatures spoken of are that of young beautiful women far out at sea where not ship or
island lay. In truth, the female of these creatures are only one half of the variety of this species. Although
most often called Mermaids for their gender, there is a male counterpart called a Merman. If such a
creature was to truly exist out in the depths, then there would have to be both sexes as to mate and create
more of their kind.  However the term Mermaid has become the standard word used when talking about
this creature.

       As told by so-called eyewitnesses, the creatures seen by sailors are most often said to have the
upper body of an attractive woman with long flowing hair and the long tail of a fish or whale. But what is it
that these people are seeing out in the middle of the ocean? Some have said what they must be seeing is
nothing more than a mirage casting across the water. But are people seeing nothing more than an illusion,
a simple hallucination brought on by long months at sea and the longing for female companionship? Or is
it something more that is going on. Some say they are seeing seals, manatees or other underwater
creatures and that only their own imagination is what creates the optical illusion of seeing a girl with a tail.
After all these creatures can’t truly exist right? Well maybe they do.

       In 2012, the Animal Planet Channel broadcasted a show called Mermaids: The Body Found. The
show shot like a documentary talked about the body of an unknown creature discovered washed up on
shore that looked very much like that of an aquatic human complete with head, arms and tail. So could this
be true, had the body of a real Mermaid been discovered? The show spoke with the lead scientist on the
project as he talked about the bodies discovered, its exam and his and his team’s conclusion that this
thing on the table was indeed that of a once living Mermaid.

       The show went on to discuss how the South African government along with the U.S. Navy seized the
creature’s remains and all other evidence that was to prove the existence of such creature destroyed and
lost forever. The cover up was to hide secret underwater testing of new weapons and that the Mermaid
and other under sea life were being killed by the testing. The Animal Planet broadcast also shown other
evidence that the creature in question were in-fact real by giving a background of how these creatures
could have come to be. It talked about how early humans or even human like apes from long ago may have
made their way to the sea and became fully aquatic creatures. Very much in the same way that the great
whale is said to have came from a wolf like beast millions of years in the past.

       In response to this airing of the Animal Planet special, the people from the National Ocean Service on
part of NOAA went on record and said that the TV show was nothing more than a hoax, that the airing of
the special was what they called a docu-fiction a blend of fact and fiction made to look as though the show
was real. A War of The Worlds like broadcast trying to make people think that the show was indeed real
when in fact it was not. There was no body of a Mermaid found and that it all was just made up. Or was it?

       A year later in May of 2013, the Animal Planet followed up with a new show called Mermaids: The
New Evidence. This time the show came prepared with photos and video of living mermaids shown in the
wild. One such video came from a two camera shot of a Mermaid swimming beside and even touching an
underwater sub. Another showed an overhead shot of a Mermaid like creature laying on some rocks
before scooting off into the sea. As another showed what seemed to be two boys finding what they
discovered  on the beach a dead washed up thing that had a claw like hand until it rose, moaned and
scared the boys off the beach before it returned to the water.

       The new broadcast was just as compelling as the first and one has to wonder was it real or not. Over
the years people have tried faking the existence of many creatures such as Big Foot or the Loch Ness
Monster. Was this Animal Planet broadcast just another hoax made to fool the public in thinking something
is out there and it may not. In 1842, famed side show freak showmen P.T. Barnum started making the
rounds with the body of a creature he called The Fiji Mermaid.. But in the end, the creature in question was
nothing more than a monkey’s upper torso attached to the tail of a fish. Others would follow in Barnum’s
footsteps but all shown to be nothing more than hoaxes too. Today one just needs to look to the internet
and YouTube to find fake creatures, photos and videos of anything from up-right apes walking around in
Florida to UFOs flying over New York City.  Look hard enough and you will find anything in the net.

       Real or not, the fact is that Mermaids and Mermen have become part of worldwide pop culture. They
can be seen in movies, TV, comics and novels. A Mermaid guest starred on the genre series Charmed
and even one of the witch sisters became a Mermaid for a short spell. Mermaids were the main theme on
the TV series H20 about teen Mermaids and who can’t forget the classic Disney animated feature film The
Little Mermaid based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale from1836. Mermaids were featured in the
last of the Pirates of The Caribbean films where the beautiful but deadly creatures attacked and pulled
pirates down to a watery grave.

       In the 1980’s comedy Splash, a Mermaid falls in love with a human and walks on land once she’s out
of water for a while. This nice sea woman is a far cry from those who drag sailors to their death below the
waves. In most films and TV series though, Mermaids are seen as friendly creatures that as in an episode
of the series Baywatch, where a Merman comes up of the deep to save a young child. Even one of
Madonna’s hit songs featured very life like Mermen and Mermaids in one of her videos.

       Not to be out done by their female counterparts, Mermen too have been featured in TV, comics and
film as well. Along with that saving Merman from Baywatch a Merman played the lead role in the 1977 TV
series The Man From Atlantis. Played by actor Patrick Duffy just before joining the cast of Dallas, Duffy
played Mark Harris, the last living member of a lost city. Although Duffy did not have a fish or whale tail as
in most descriptions of Mermen but walked around on two legs, he did however have webbed hands and
swam in a very distinctive way very unlike any swimmer or deep sea diver.

       In DC Comics, their very aquatic Aquaman superhero is very much like Duffy in The Man Form
Atlantis, where although he is a water breathing being, he also has legs to walk on land when need to. The
same can be said for Aquaman’s Marvel Comics counterpart the Sub-Mariner. Here like Aquaman, the
Sub-Mariner can live and breathe under water but has two legs upon he walks. In the horror movie
Creature From The Black Lagoon, the featured gill man walks on two feet but is all fish man as he live
under the dark surface of a very lost in time lagoon deep within the Amazon Jungle.

       So, are there pretty half fish girls out there in the middle of Earth’s oceans? Well when you consider
that three quarters of the planet is covered in water and we are still just discovering things out there that at
one time where nothing more than myth and story, the idea of a race of people well suited to a life at sea is
not all that crazy. After all, science teaches us that at one point in time early on, all life on Earth once came
from the sea. And if live started out there…..then why can’t there still be a yet undiscovered creature out
there among the waves. Maybe, perhaps one day, a true Merman or woman will crawl from the sea and
enlighten us all about our sisters and brothers from the deep.
Creature Feature