I'm not raising my voice to dispute the potential existence of mermaids. Or bigfoot. Or any cryptozoological entity for that matter. But the lack of common sense that has been exhibited resulting from the recent Animal Planet mockumentary Mermaids: The Body Found which aired last Sunday (May 27) is itching at my temperance. I haven't seen it myself, but Mermaids: The Body Found was a 2-hour Animal Planet special documenting "a scientific team's investigative efforts to uncover the source behind mysterious underwater recordings and an unidentified marine body" (source: [link]
. This mockumentary is clearly science fiction, a la the 2004 Animal Planet special Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real (also known as The Last Dragon and Dragon's World). Allegedly Mermaids: The Body Found, though indisputably fictional and speculative in itself, was inspired by a "real" home video recording of two boys discovering a dying mermaid on a beach amongst a pod of beached whales ([link]
. One commenter stated, "The boys who video taped the creature they found on shore [referencing the 1:15-minute AnimalPlanetTV clip on YouTube] was just a renactment, but that was because the government got the mom to convince the boys to not think about the tape. They still have it, you know." My question is, why would the government cover up the existence of mermaids? According to another commenter, apparently, "Because if people were aware that there was a being related to us that could potentially have equivalent intelligence, the foundation of our world of human dominance would crumble. Our lives are based on the idea that we rule the world, we are the epitome of intelligence in our underdeveloped world. The existence of mermaids threatens our way of life and our understanding of the world around us." A) if mermaids are real, that's freaking awesome (my personal opinion, of course). B) sapient or not, if mermaids are real they have never and probably will never conflict with humanity as we occupy two entirely different domains. Humans are terrestrial, mermaids are aquatic. The difference between not knowing they exist and knowing they exist wouldn't change anything. If mermaids are real, and the government is covering up their existence than they certainly need to reorganize their priorities. Spending time and money to sustain a cover-up is more damaging to society than would be the confirmed existence of mermaids.
I briefly researched mermaids in light of this havoc, and I discovered a most interesting explanation regarding their origin. According to a Blogger.com blog, sourced and condensed by Wikipedia, "For centuries, in Japan and other Pacific island countries, female Ama divers would swim nude searching for shellfish. These divers slowly developed the ability to hold their breath for long periods of time and to survive in cold water that would kill most people from hypothermia. Women make better divers than men because of their physiological advantages in tolerating cold. After surfacing they would hyperventilate to restore their oxygen levels which would make a loud sighing sound referred to as the isobue or 'sea whistle' or in Japanese as the 'song of the sea.' They needed to rest periodically and so after diving, as aid to maintaining lung capacity, these women frequently would sing loud songs and this may have been the origin of the siren myth. It is plausible that ancient sailors might have encountered these divers and assumed they were not human because of their ability to withstand the cold water and to submerge for several minutes at a time. There were laws restricting poaching in the sea so local village people would have had an interest in propagating and reinforcing the siren and mermaid myths to protect the divers and their wealth. The tradition of women divers has been documented in many other countries outside of Asia. In fact, many of the early artistic depictions of mermaids showed normal human women with legs rather than the typical fish-tail of the modern mythical image." Further and more detailed reading is available on the blog itself: [link]
Animal Planet should not fuel ridiculous controversies like this. "Mermaids are real" and "the government is covering up their existence" advocates need to step outside and get some fresh air. There may not be such a thing as mermaids, but there is such a thing as "too much television."
P.S. to promote Mermaids: The Body Found a website was established called believeinmermaids.com allegedly containing material such as the original "two boys find mermaid on beach" clip. Visiting the website, it appears that the Department of Justice has seized the domain ([link]
, reinforcing the ludicrous idea that the government is covering up the existence of mermaids. A quick observation of a domain ACTUALLY seized by the Department of Justice (megaupload.com for example: [link]
contrasts the difference between a real seizure notice and a mock-up. Don't let the "seized mermaid website" deceive you, folks. It's promotional propaganda. The government is not hiding anything from us, and mermaids retain their cryptic status.
And on a final note, technically humans are fish as infraclass Tetrapodomorpha falls under class Sarcopterygii, the lobe-finned fish. So, mermaids? What's the big deal? We're all fish-people anyway!