Mermaids – underwater creatures that are half fish and half human – do not exist except in people’s imaginations. Scientists who study the ocean for the United States have investigated their possible existence and say no evidence of mermaids has ever been found.
You might wonder why government scientists looked into this question. There are many stories about mermaids on TV, the internet and in magazines that pretend to be real science news. They try to fool people into believing mermaids are real, without any true evidence. This is called “cryptoscience” or “cryptozoology,” but it’s not real science. Don’t let intriguing stories deceive you about mermaids and other fun but made-up creatures, like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.
But just because mermaids are not real does not mean they are not meaningful. Mermaids, or merfolk as they are sometimes called because not all of them are female, have a long history and are known all over the world – the same way dragons, fairies and unicorns are.
Mermaids are not real, but are meaningful to people around the world.
Sometimes their mermaids were good, like the Greek goddess Atargatis, who protected humans, but others were dangerous, like the Sirens, who sang beautiful songs that made sailors crash their ships into rocks and sink. Irish mermaids, called “merrows,” which date back 1,000 years, were also considered a sign of bad luck.
Stories about mermaids also varied depending on where and when they were told. Only some are about mermaids falling in love and wanting to be human, like Ariel and Ponyo. In the storybook “Mermaids From Mars,” for instance, mermaids have used up all the water on Mars and come to Earth to help people learn the lesson of water conservation.
Whatever the reasons, people still clearly love mermaids. You can buy mermaid dolls, coloring books and costumes. You can find them on flags, coins and Starbucks coffee. At some aquariums and water parks, real people perform as mermaids and have to practice holding their breath and keeping their eyes open underwater for a long time. There’s even a brand of cotton candy called “Mermaid Farts,” which is described as “sweet and fluffy!”
Even though mermaids are not really real, they can feed your imagination and creativity. Mermaids are also important because they are a shared idea that has linked people together around the world for a very long time.