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For centuries, mermaids have captured the imagination of both sailors and landlubbers, fascinated by the idea of hidden fish people beneath the waves. Yet the exact nature of these underwater humans has varied pretty wildly over the years. Even though the fantastical beings are clearly fiction, there are still places all over the world where you can visit actual mermaids in some form or another whether they are Barnumesque hokum, frolicking manatees that inspired the myth in the first place, and even some South Korean fisherwomen that have come to be known as mermaids. All across the world, mermaids are real!

Fujinomiya, Japan


If the legends surrounding this hideous little goblin found in Japan's Tenshou-Kyousha Shrine are to be believed, it may be the oldest mermaid on this list. As the story goes, this creature is 1,400-years-old and once appeared to a local prince claiming to have once been a regular fisherman who was cursed after fishing in protected waters. The mermaid is said to have asked the prince to build the shrine as a reminder of his mistake, displaying the cursed corpse for all to see. However this is more likely a taxidermy abomination. 

Apollo Beach, Florida

Possibly one of the least expected places to see so-called mermaids is in the waste water pools of this Florida power plant. It is widely believed that the myth of the mermaid is primarily inspired by manatee sightings as the bulbous, fleshy sea-cows gracefully floated beneath the waves. A large group of the animals continues to do so today outside of this Florida power plant as the heated waste water from the facility drains out and creates a comfortable environment for the creatures, which from such a close vantage point, are definitely some unattractive mermaids


Myths of Mermaids
Legends and myths of mermaids can be traced to some of the oldest human civilizations on Earth. Ancient Babylonians, Polynesian tribes and Syrians all worshiped merpeople in some form or another, from being simple sea creatures to publicly respected gods, such as Syrian mermaid moon goddess Atargatis (sometimes called Derceto). Those beliefs slowly spread across the entire world, from Greek religion to the west (where the god of the sea Poseidon had a merman son Triton) to the distant Japan where mermaids had the power to grant immortality. Greek mythology had an especially significant influence on the spreading of mermaid legend across Europe. They appeared multiple times in their culture, arts (they attempted to lure Odysseus to his death in the sea) and legends (such as young fisherman Glaucus who found a mystical grass which changed him into merman). In all civilizations around the world, mermaids had many different abilities, powers and were not always friendly (especially in the beliefs of the people in British folklore, where they were presented as ominous creatures that lure sailors to their deaths). Irish sailors, however, had a much more romantic view of mermaids, and the taking of sailors under the sea was considered to be an act of love (with the even possibility of the pair marrying each other, and coming to the land to live their lives in happiness).


All of those myths managed to infuse mermaids into modern arts. They can be found in Greek pottery, decorations of medieval churches, coat of arms, paintings (the most famous one is John William Waterhouse's "The Mermaid" that was painted between 1895 and 1905), novels, films and other works of art. In all of them, mermaids are depicted as beautiful creatures that are curious of human life. This fact was greatly popularized with the 1836 fairytale "The Little Mermaid" written by Hans Christian Andersen. This story became the gold standard of the modern view of mermaids, and popular Disney adaptation of his fairytale (in which young mermaid princess trades her voice to gain full human form in a quest to win a love of a prince) only solidified the popular view of this mythical creature.


Edited by titanic1

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