Part of Their World: Mermaid Facts in Pop Culture & History

green mermaid tail costume under a swimming pool’s water

Source by: Annette Batista Day

Oh, mermaid facts. Reading about them makes us sigh in enchantment wishing they were real.

Disney Princess, Ariel, who longed to be human couldn’t help but sing and wish that she was part of our world. If she only knew the feeling was mutual. Every mermaid fan longs to peek in their world and wonder what it’s like to be part of it.

And we know you do too! So we’re serving up the freshest facts about mermaids in this article. You’ll get to know interesting bits and pieces about these underwater folks from their anatomy, origins, and to their roles in present-day culture.

Are you ready to dive right in? Let’s go!

I. Mermaid Anatomy: What Does a Mermaid Look Like?

a woman in a mermaid costume swimming with fishes underwater

Source by: Colin Lloyd

“Mermaid” comes from combining two English words together. “Mere” means “sea” and “maid” means “a young woman”. Scottish tales even describe them as maidens of the sea. It’s from this combination that we get an idea of what a mermaid is and what she looks like.

Essentially, a mermaid is a sea creature of mythical origins whose appearance is half-human waist up and half-fish waist down. It’s perceived as an attractive woman with slim physical features and long hair with shimmery scales on its tail.

Types of Mermaids

happy red-haired mermaid with yellow fish swimming inside an underwater cavern

Source by: Disney Princess

One can’t help but be mesmerized and bewildered at the same time while thinking about a mermaid. It enchants the imagination so much that there are plenty of different ways mermaids have been depicted worldwide.

It has the general look of half-human half-fish but with differences in the color of the scales, hair, attractiveness, and personalities. Here’s a quick list of the different types of mermaids around the world:

  • European: sea maiden with power to bring angry storms and seas, can cause drowning, can shape-shift into humans, can have wings
  • Southeast Asia: a golden sea maiden
  • Middle East: faces as pale as the moon whose bodies have fish tails
  • Africa: benevolent motherly water beings

Here’s a realistic animatronic mermaid to help you get a better picture. It’s great to tell mermaid stories in exhibits, shows, and even museums!

an animatronic mermaid wearing a tiara on her blonde hair, purple-gray scales on her torso, and aquamarine tail

Source by: Only Dinosaurs

Are Mermaids & Sirens the Same?

a woman wearing a red mermaid costume swimming underwater

Source by: Leticia Azevedo

The short answer is no according to mermaid facts, Mermaids and sirens are different from each other.

Mermaids are half-fish creatures and had personalities that are more inclined towards love and benevolence. In contrast, sirens are enchanting creatures who weren’t half fish but started out as half-bird in the Greek myth about Persephone.

Sirens had beautiful singing voices that are irresistible to anyone who hears but would be lured into a fatal crash on craggy rocks. Their personalities are more deceitful, leaning towards temptation.

II. Interesting Facts About Mermaids’ Everyday Life

a woman in purple and green mermaid costume swimming underwater in a pool

Source by: Bruce Christianson

Now you may be wondering what goes on in a mermaid’s everyday life. Do they sing, dance, and long for the shores just like Ariel? What kind of food is on their menus? Come on and let’s check it out!

What Do Mermaids Eat?

school of fish photographed from below

Source by: Harrison Haines

There’s a lot of speculation about a mermaid’s diet. Food on their menus is most likely seafood and sea vegetables since those are the ones most available in the ocean.

Now, what kind of seafood will depend on which part of the sea they live in. Flounder and Sebastian aren’t up for grabs for sure!

What Do Mermaids Like?

red-haired mermaid with yellow fish swimming inside an underwater cavern

Source by: Disney

Based on legends, mermaids seem to like interacting with humans. Their interactions are often told in stories in the following ways:

  • as lovers
  • as signs to sailors of an ominous storm when spotted in the sea
  • as help who calms the sea when appeased by sailors
  • helps warn people of an incoming storm by singing
  • a benevolent being who helps build bridges

Are Mermaids Dangerous?

a hand holding a seashell in the water

Source by: Biel Morro

Mermaids are often perceived as bright and kindly nowadays. But at the same time, they’re also regarded with a sense of wariness because legends say that these mythical creatures also had dangerous personalities.

Mermaids are seen in Europe as beings that can cause a storm and bring down ships. They’re also thought to bring natural disasters upon a place when offended. Additionally, mermaids are believed to deceive people to live with them underwater and those who unwittingly follow go down to a watery grave.

III. Mermaid Mythology & History

a gray-scale picture of a woman in a mermaid costume swimming underwater

Source by: Bruce Christianson

Where did these all start? How did mermaids come into the human imagination? Let’s find out from mermaid myths, legends, and histories through the years.

Mermaid History: Where Did Mermaids Originate from?

a mermaid statue on top of a pile of rocks beside a body of water

Source by: Ange Loron

The myth of the mermaid may have started from the ancient tale of the Assyrian mythological goddess called Atargatis in 1,000 BC. She was a beautiful and powerful deity who fell in love with a mortal shepherd. Their love story, unfortunately, ended when she accidentally brought about his demise.

She despaired so much from his death that she threw herself into the sea in shame and changed into a fish. But the underwater gods wouldn’t let her give up her astounding beauty.

So she took a half-human and half-fish form to appease them. This tragic love story may have been the starting point of mermaid stories.

You’ll also get an idea of how long have mermaids been around from this story. If the Assyrian mermaid myth started 1,000 BC, then mermaids have been around for over 3,000 years by now.

Mermaid History: A Second Look

whales’ tails above the water’s surface

Source by: Steve Halama

People back then didn’t know the seas as much as we do today. The many mermaid sightings reported as early as 1493 may have been sea creatures like dugongs, manatees, whales, or seals that sailors mistook for mermaids.

It’s easy to understand why because only parts of the animals’ bodies were seen from the surface. What’s mostly seen were their long tails and parts of the torso which may have fueled people’s imaginations.

But why create these kinds of stories? The Conversation offers an insightful explanation:

Throughout time, people have often created stories to help explain all kinds of things they couldn’t understand at the time. Stories also help people understand their own dreams, desires and fears.”

People may have created these myths to help themselves come to grips with the new things they were discovering. Things like the unfamiliar manatees or seals they just saw.

Maybe they didn’t have the necessary scientific techniques at that time to help them understand those things. This is might be why myths were used instead.

Mermaid Mythology

woman in a blue and purple mermaid costume in a black background

Source by: Gavin poh

Curious to know the mermaid facts behind the myths? Let’s discover them one by one from mermaid myths across the globe.

Greek Mermaid Mythology

illustration of a large wooden ship under overcast skies

Source by: Pixabay

There’s this legend from ancient Greece about Alexander the Great’s sister, Thessalonike. She was turned into a mermaid when she died and was said to live in the Aegean Sea.

Thessalonike would always inquire about her brother whenever ships sailed by the waters. But there was a catch. There’s only one right answer for her and sailors were doomed to a catastrophic storm if they answered wrongly.

The right answer to her question, “Is King Alexander alive?” is that he is alive, well, and conquering the world.  Any answer other than that spells a sailor’s doom. Answering correctly will assure them a safe passage at sea.

Russian Mermaid Mythology

gray-scale photo of a woman in the waters

Source by: Jana Sabeth

Mermaids are known as rusalka in Russian myths. They’re perceived as generous spirits who bring about fertility and good agriculture.

But perceptions changed in the 19th century and rusalkas were seen as violent spirits of women who died of drowning. They were believed to lure people to drown too as acts of their revenge.

Middle Eastern Mermaid Mythology

close-up shot of a person’s legs and feet underwater

Source by: David Romualdo

The epic “One Thousand and One Nights” portrays mermaids differently from their European counterparts. Mermaids here are more human-like in appearance with the only difference being their ability to thrive underwater.

British Mermaid Mythology

a woman in a green-gray mermaid costume on the beach

Source by: Naja Bertolt Jensen

Mermaids in Britain are believed to be bearers of bad news when sighted in the sea. They are signs that a bad storm is coming up. In some literature like the Sir Patrick Spens ballad, a mermaid tells ships of their doom, saying that their eyes will never set sight on land again.

Korean Mermaid Mythology

blue-green mermaid statue on a rock beside the sea

Source by: Daniel Bernard

In this part of Asia, they’re seen as kind sea creatures who warn fishermen of upcoming storms. They warned them by throwing rocks into the waters and by singing.

Thai & Cambodian Mermaid Mythology

a fishtail seen from the water’s surface

Source by: Phoebe Dill

The mermaid is thought of as a princess who falls in love with the Ramayana’s hero and helps finish the bridge the hero was building.

IV. Mermaids in Pop Culture

a blue mermaid tail submerges in a pool

Source by: Kindel Media

What a rich history mermaid has, right? Now you know the interesting facts about mermaids from the past that shaped how we think of them today.

Let’s now swim towards the surface and see mermaids in pop culture at present.

The Modern Mermaid Culture

a woman in a blue mermaid costume swimming underwater

Source by: Mehgan Heaney-Grier

Did you know that there’s such a thing as “mermaiding”? Yep! Living like a mermaid in the 21st century is a reality for many.

Mermaiding is the lifestyle of wearing a mermaid costume and swimming in it for leisure or performance at special events. Mermaiding even includes meeting up with other mermaid enthusiasts and bonding over shared interests. These can be meet-ups set up by a local organization or simply a community on social media meeting in person.

Wow, right? We never knew that there was such a thing as the mermaid lifestyle!

Some people have even made swimming classes designed to strengthen your fitness through mermaid-like moves. Workouts are meant to strengthen your core, endurance, and flexibility.

Mermaids in the Movies

defocused picture of woman swimming underwater

Source by: Nsey Benajah

Mermaids in pop culture also abound in movies. Which one’s your favorite? Check out this list of the best mermaid movies according to Screen Rant:

  • Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
  • Sabrina Down Under (2003)
  • Aquamarine (2006)
  • Splash (1984)
  • The Little Mermaid (1989)
  • The Little Mermaid (2018)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
red-haired mermaid in a pink dress combing her hair with a fork

Source by: Disney

Can’t get enough? Here are five interesting facts about mermaids in movies.

  • Famous actress Bette Midler danced as a mermaid in a wheelchair in the Golden Globe-nominated film Divine Madness.
  • The physical features of Disney’s Ariel were inspired by actress Alyssa Milano.
  • The first-ever mermaid movie was shown as a silent film in 1904, titled “The Mermaid”.
  • The first Disney movie with mermaids wasn’t “The Little Mermaid” but Peter Pan.
  • Hit 80s movie, Splash, used a mermaid tail that took 8 hours to remove from actress Daryl Hannah.

Mermaids on Stage

Did you know mermaids in pop culture can do singing, dancing, and acting too? A stellar performance can be found in none other than Broadway’s The Little Mermaid.

The only catch is these performances were on stage. Not much water here but the production was nothing short of dazzling.

What made a production like this enjoyably lifelike are its high-quality custom products. The cavern, Eric’s ship, Sebastian’s costume, and even Ariel’s mermaid tail are all awesome pieces that really made the show realistic.

Where to Watch Live Mermaid Shows

Do you want to see mermaid facts brought to life? Live mermaid shows are exactly what you need to see your mermaid dreams in reality.

One of the most popular places to watch an excellent mermaid performance is at Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. You can watch a mesmerizing performance of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. Watch an epic battle showing how “love conquers all”.

Another place you can visit to watch mermaids is Ripley’s Aquarium of The Smokies in South Carolina. They have events where you can even have breakfast with a mermaid on top of their live shows.

Mermaid Facts & Real Life

woman swimming in the sea

Source by: Karl Fredrickson

How did you enjoy the facts about mermaids we just shared? There’s so much we just got to know and yet there’s still so much to discover!

Probably because the sky’s the limit when it comes to our imagination. We can simply create our very own mermaid stories, plays, and performances.

Then we can share them with others to enjoy. Stories that reflect real life just like modern mermaid culture does.

Just remember to stay grounded and not get carried away. After all, too much of a good thing becomes harmful too when it goes overboard.

We hope you enjoyed it! See you at our next blog post!

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