Mermaid

Mermaid

Overview
A mermaid is a mythological
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 aquatic creature with a female human head, arms, and torso and the tail of a fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

. A male version of a mermaid is known as a "merman" and in general both males and females are known as "merfolk". Mermaids are represented in the folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

, literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 and popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 of many countries worldwide.

"Mermaid" is a compound of mer, the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 word for "sea", and maid, a girl or young woman.
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Encyclopedia
A mermaid is a mythological
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 aquatic creature with a female human head, arms, and torso and the tail of a fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

. A male version of a mermaid is known as a "merman" and in general both males and females are known as "merfolk". Mermaids are represented in the folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

, literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 and popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 of many countries worldwide.

Overview and etymology


"Mermaid" is a compound of mer, the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 word for "sea", and maid, a girl or young woman. The male equivalent is a merman
Merman
Mermen are mythical male equivalents of mermaids – legendary creatures who have the form of a human from the waist up and are fish-like from the waist down.-Mythology:...

.

Much like siren
Siren
In Greek mythology, the Sirens were three dangerous mermaid like creatures, portrayed as seductresses who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Roman poets placed them on an island called Sirenum scopuli...

s, mermaids will sing to people or to gods to enchant them, distracting them from their work and causing people to walk off a ship's deck or to run their ship aground. Other stories depict mermaids squeezing the life out of drowning men while attempting to rescue them. They are also said to carry humans down to their underwater kingdoms. In Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author, fairy tale writer, and poet noted for his children's stories. These include "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "The Snow Queen," "The Little Mermaid," "Thumbelina," "The Little Match Girl," and "The Ugly Duckling."...

's The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid
"The Little Mermaid" is a popular fairy tale by the Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen about a young mermaid willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul and the love of a human prince...

, it is said that mermaids forget that humans cannot
breathe underwater, while other stories say they drown men out of spite, while still other fables portray mermaids as benevolent toward men.This singing chant is probably a curse to the mermaid as well.

The sirens of Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 are sometimes portrayed in later folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 as mermaid-like; in fact, some languages use the same word for both bird and fish creatures, such as the Maltese word 'sirena'. Other related types of mythical
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 or legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

ary creatures are water fairies (e.g., various water nymphs
Naiad
In Greek mythology, the Naiads or Naiades were a type of nymph who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks....

) and selkie
Selkie
Selkies are mythological creatures that are found in Faroese, Icelandic, Irish, and Scottish folklore....

s, animals that can transform themselves from seals to humans.

In modern times, the mermaid is used as an official animal/mascot of many mythical stories involving pirates and the sea. It is also associated with "sea cows
Sirenia
Sirenia is an order of fully aquatic, herbivorous mammals that inhabit swamps, rivers, estuaries, marine wetlands, and coastal marine waters. Four species are living, in two families and genera. These are the dugong and manatees...

" that are called manatees. Sailors would see the animals and categorize them as mythical mermaids.

Traditionally, mermaids have been depicted unclothed. When censorship is an issue, most prominent in movies, effort is made to have the mermaids’ long hair cover their breasts. In areas with strong censorship, notably in some U.S. family movies, mermaids have been wearing different variants of tops or swimsuits.

Ancient Near East


The first known mermaid stories
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 appeared in Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, ca. 1000 BC. The goddess Atargatis
Atargatis
Atargatis, in Aramaic ‘Atar‘atah, was a Syrian deity, " great goddess of northern Syria" ,"the great mistress of the North Syrian lands" Rostovtseff called her, commonly known to the ancient Greeks by a shortened form of the name, Aphrodite Derceto or Derketo and as Dea Syria, "Goddess of Syria"...

, mother of Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n queen Semiramis
Semiramis
The real and historical Shammuramat , was the Assyrian queen of Shamshi-Adad V , King of Assyria and ruler of the Neo Assyrian Empire, and its regent for four years until her son Adad-nirari III came of age....

, loved a mortal shepherd and unintentionally killed him. Ashamed, she jumped into a lake to take the form of a fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, but the waters would not conceal her divine beauty. Thereafter, she took the form of a mermaid—human above the waist, fish below—though the earliest representations of Atargatis showed her as a fish with a human head and legs, similar to the Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

n Ea. The Greeks recognized Atargatis under the name Derketo. Prior to 546 BC, the Milesian philosopher Anaximander
Anaximander
Anaximander was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who lived in Miletus, a city of Ionia; Milet in modern Turkey. He belonged to the Milesian school and learned the teachings of his master Thales...

 proposed that mankind had sprung from an aquatic species of animal. He thought that humans, with their extended infancy, could not have survived otherwise.

A popular Greek legend turns Alexander the Great's sister, Thessalonike, into a mermaid after she died. She lived, it was said, in the Aegean
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

 and when she encountered a ship, she asked its sailors only one question: "Is King Alexander alive?" , to which the correct answer was: "He lives and reigns and conquers the world" (Greek: "Ζει και βασιλεύει και τον κόσμο κυριεύει"). This answer pleased her so she calmed the waters and wished the ship farewell. Any other answer would spur her into a rage. She would raise a terrible storm, with certain doom for the ship and every sailor on board.

Lucian of Samosata
Lucian
Lucian of Samosata was a rhetorician and satirist who wrote in the Greek language. He is noted for his witty and scoffing nature.His ethnicity is disputed and is attributed as Assyrian according to Frye and Parpola, and Syrian according to Joseph....

 in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 (2nd century AD) in De Dea Syria ("Concerning the Syrian Goddess") wrote of the Syrian temples he had visited:
"Among them - Now that is the traditional story among them concerning the temple. But other men swear that Semiramis
Semiramis
The real and historical Shammuramat , was the Assyrian queen of Shamshi-Adad V , King of Assyria and ruler of the Neo Assyrian Empire, and its regent for four years until her son Adad-nirari III came of age....

 of Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

, whose deeds are many in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, also founded this site, and not for Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

 Atargatis
Atargatis
Atargatis, in Aramaic ‘Atar‘atah, was a Syrian deity, " great goddess of northern Syria" ,"the great mistress of the North Syrian lands" Rostovtseff called her, commonly known to the ancient Greeks by a shortened form of the name, Aphrodite Derceto or Derketo and as Dea Syria, "Goddess of Syria"...

 but for her own Mother, whose name was Derketo
Atargatis
Atargatis, in Aramaic ‘Atar‘atah, was a Syrian deity, " great goddess of northern Syria" ,"the great mistress of the North Syrian lands" Rostovtseff called her, commonly known to the ancient Greeks by a shortened form of the name, Aphrodite Derceto or Derketo and as Dea Syria, "Goddess of Syria"...

"
"I saw the likeness of Derketo in Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

, a strange marvel. It is woman for half its length, but the other half, from thighs to feet, stretched out in a fish's tail. But the image in the Holy City is entirely a woman, and the grounds for their account are not very clear. They consider fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 to be sacred, and they never eat them; and though they eat all other fowl
Fowl
Fowl is a word for birds in general but usually refers to birds belonging to one of two biological orders, namely the gamefowl or landfowl and the waterfowl...

s, they do not eat the dove
Dove
Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family Columbidae within the order Columbiformes, which include some 300 species of near passerines. In general terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably...

, for she is holy so they believe. And these things are done, they believe, because of Derketo and Semiramis
Semiramis
The real and historical Shammuramat , was the Assyrian queen of Shamshi-Adad V , King of Assyria and ruler of the Neo Assyrian Empire, and its regent for four years until her son Adad-nirari III came of age....

, the first because Derketo has the shape of a fish, and the other because ultimately Semiramis turned into a dove
Dove
Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family Columbidae within the order Columbiformes, which include some 300 species of near passerines. In general terms "dove" and "pigeon" are used somewhat interchangeably...

. Well, I may grant that the temple was a work of Semiramis perhaps; but that it belongs to Derketo I do not believe in any way. For among the Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

, some people do not eat fish, and that is not done to honor Derketo."

Arabian Nights


The One Thousand and One Nights includes several tales featuring "Sea People", such as Djullanar the Sea-girl. Unlike the depiction in other mythologies, these are anatomically identical to land-bound humans, differing only in their ability to breathe and live underwater. They can (and do) interbreed with land humans, the children of such unions sharing in the ability to live underwater.

In another Arabian Nights tale,r "Abdullah the Fisherman and Abdullah the Merman", the protagonist
Protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

 Abdullah the Fisherman gains the ability to breathe underwater and discovers an underwater submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 society that is portrayed as an inverted reflection of society on land, in that the underwater society follows a form of primitive communism
Primitive communism
Primitive communism is a term used by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to describe what they interpreted as early forms of communism: As a model, primitive communism is usually used to describe early hunter-gatherer societies, that had no hierarchical social class structures or capital accumulation...

 where concepts like money and clothing do not exist. Other Arabian Nights tales deal with lost ancient technologies, advanced ancient civilizations that went astray, and catastrophes which overwhelmed them.

In "The Adventures of Bulukiya", the protagonist Bulukiya's quest for the herb of immortality
Elixir of life
The elixir of life, also known as the elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher's stone, is a legendary potion, or drink, that grants the drinker eternal life and or eternal youth. Many practitioners of alchemy pursued it. The elixir of life was also said to be able to create...

 leads him to explore the seas, where he encounters societies of mermaids. "Julnar the Sea-Born and Her Son King Badr Basim of Persia" is yet another Arabian Nights tale about mermaids.

When sailors come the mermaids sing, and some men are led straight to their doom. If they follow the mermaids' lovely and beautiful voices, they do not know what they are doing or where they're going.


British Isles


The Norman Chapel in Durham Castle
Durham Castle
Durham Castle is a Norman castle in the city of Durham, England, which has been wholly occupied since 1840 by University College, Durham. It is open to the general public to visit, but only through guided tours, since it is in use as a working building and is home to over 100 students...

, built around 1078 by Saxon stonemasons has what is reputed to be one of the earliest artistic depictions of a Mermaid in England. It can be seen on a south-facing capital above one of the original Norman stone pillars.

Mermaids were noted in British folklore as unlucky omens – both foretelling disaster and provoking it. Several variants of the ballad
Ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

 Sir Patrick Spens
Sir Patrick Spens
"Sir Patrick Spens" is one of the most popular of the Child Ballads , and is of Scottish origin.-Historicity:The events of the ballad are similar to, and may chronicle, an actual event: the bringing home of the Scottish queen Margaret, Maid of Norway across the North Sea in 1290...

depict a mermaid speaking to the doomed ships; in some, she tells them they will never see land again, and in others, she claims they are near shore, which they are wise enough to know means the same thing. Mermaids can also be a sign of approaching rough weather.

Some mermaids were described as monstrous in size, up to 2000 feet (609.6 m).

Mermaids have also been described as being able to swim up river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s to freshwater
Freshwater
Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

 lakes. One day, in a lake near his house, the Laird
Laird
A Laird is a member of the gentry and is a heritable title in Scotland. In the non-peerage table of precedence, a Laird ranks below a Baron and above an Esquire.-Etymology:...

 of Lorntie went to aid a woman he thought drowning; a servant of his pulled him back, warning that it was a mermaid, and the mermaid screamed after that she would have killed him if it were not for his servant.

On occasion, mermaids could be more beneficent, teaching humans cures for disease.

Some tales raised the question of whether mermaids had immortal souls, answering in the negative. The figure of Lí Ban
Lí Ban
Lí Ban is an "Otherworldly woman" from Irish Mythology, best known as the sister of the sea goddess Fand, and perhaps an early sea deity herself....

 appears as a sanctified mermaid, but she was a human being transformed into a mermaid; after three centuries, when Christianity had come to Ireland, she was baptized.

Mermen were noted as wilder and uglier than mermaids, and they were described as having little interest in humans.

In Scottish mythology
Scottish mythology
Scottish mythology may refer to any of the mythologies of Scotland.Myths have emerged for various purposes throughout the history of Scotland, sometimes being elaborated upon by successive generations, and at other times being completely rejected and replaced by other explanatory narratives.-...

, there is a mermaid called the ceasg
Ceasg
A ceasg is a mermaid in Scottish mythology, a supernatural half-woman and half-grilse . It is also known in Scottish Gaelic as maighdean na tuinne or maighdean mhara . The ceasg is said to be able to grant three wishes to anyone that captures her....

 or "maid of the wave".

China


In some ancient fairy tales of China, the mermaid was a special creature whose tears could turn into priceless pearls. Mermaids could also weave an extremely valuable material, translucent and beautiful. Because of this, fishermen longed to catch them, but the mermaids' splendid singing could simply drag them down into a coma.

In other Chinese legends, the mermaid is wondrous, but brainless and easy to trap. The legend said that mermaids were born with purple tails that smelled of happiness, but if sadness or death occurred during the mermaids' lifetimes their tails would turn red, and smell like sadness. So fishermen longed to catch mermaids in order to sniff their purple or red tails.


Warsaw mermaid


The mermaid, or syrenka, is the symbol of Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

. Images of a mermaid symbolized Warsaw on its crest since the middle of the 14th century. Several legends associate Triton
Triton (mythology)
Triton is a mythological Greek god, the messenger of the big sea. He is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and Amphitrite, goddess of the sea, whose herald he is...

 of mythology with the city, which may have been the mermaid association's origin.

Other


Among the Neo-Taíno nations
Neo-Taíno nations
Neo-Taino nations are defined here as the assorted nations of the Caribbean islands, that together with the Tainos, were described on the arrival of European chroniclers or which arose after this historic record was established.-Introduction:...

 of the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 the mermaid is called Aycayia. Her attributes relate to the goddess Jagua
Jagua
Jagua may refer to:* Castillo de Jagua, a fortress* Plants of the genus Genipa* Jagua Tattoo, a type of skin decoration...

, and the hibiscus flower of the majagua tree Hibiscus tiliaceus.
In modern Caribbean culture, the mermaid is found as Haitian Vodou Lwa La Sirene (literally, 'the mermaid') who is lwa of wealth and beauty and the orisha
Orisha
An Orisha is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system....

 Yemaya.

Examples from other cultures are the Mami Wata
Mami Wata
Mami Wata is venerated in West, Central, Southern Africa, and in the African diaspora in the Caribbean and parts of North and South America. Mami Wata spirits are usually female, but are sometimes male.-Appearance:...

 of West
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

 and Central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

, the Jengu
Jengu
A jengu is a water spirit and deity in the traditional beliefs of the Sawa ethnic groups of Cameroon, particularly the Duala, Bakweri, and related Sawa peoples. Among the Bakweri, the name is liengu...

 of Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

, the Merrow
Merrow
Merrow or Murrough is the Scottish and Irish Gaelic equivalent of the mermaid and mermen of other cultures. These beings are said to appear as human from the waist up but have the body of a fish from the waist down...

 of Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, the Rusalka
Rusalka
In Slavic mythology, a rusalka was a female ghost, water nymph, succubus, or mermaid-like demon that dwelled in a waterway....

s of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, the Iara
Iara (mythology)
Iara, also spelled Uira or Yara, is the name of a figure from Brazilian mythology based on ancient Tupi and Guaraní mythology. The word derives from Old Tupi yîara = y + îara = lady of the lake . She is seen as either a water nymph, siren, or mermaid depending upon the context of the story told...

 from Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and the Greek Oceanid
Oceanid
In Greek mythology and, later, Roman mythology, the Oceanids were the three thousand daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Each was the patroness of a particular spring, river, sea, lake, pond, pasture, flower or cloud...

s, Nereids, and Naiad
Naiad
In Greek mythology, the Naiads or Naiades were a type of nymph who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks....

s. One freshwater mermaid-like creature from European folklore
European folklore
European folklore or Western folklore refers to the folklore of the western world, especially when discussed comparatively.There is, of course, no single European culture, but nevertheless the common history of Christendom during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period has resulted in a number...

 is Melusine
Melusine
Melusine is a figure of European legends and folklore, a feminine spirit of fresh waters in sacred springs and rivers.She is usually depicted as a woman who is a serpent or fish from the waist down...

, who is sometimes depicted with two fish tails, and other times with the lower body of a serpent
Serpent (symbolism)
Serpent in Latin means: Rory Collins :&, in turn, from the Biblical Hebrew word of: "saraf" with root letters of: which refers to something burning-as, the pain of poisonous snake's bite was likened to internal burning.This word is commonly used in a specifically mythic or religious context,...

. It is said in Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 that eating the flesh of a ningyo
Ningyo
is a fish-like creature from Japanese folklore. Anciently, it was described with a mouth like a monkey's, small teeth like a fish's, shining golden scales, and a quiet voice like a skylark or a flute. Its flesh is pleasant-tasting, and anyone who eats it will attain remarkable longevity...

 can grant unaging immortality
Immortality
Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

. In some European legends mermaids are said to be unlucky.

Mermaids and mermen
Merman
Mermen are mythical male equivalents of mermaids – legendary creatures who have the form of a human from the waist up and are fish-like from the waist down.-Mythology:...

 are also characters of Philippine folklore, where they are locally known as sirena and siyokoy
Philippine mythical creatures
Philippine folklore, unlike Greek or Roman mythologies, has not been organized into a formal pantheon, does not generally contain long epics, nor has it been relegated to history. To this day, Philippine myths still have an active role in the lives of rural Filipinos. The countless myths...

, respectively. The Javanese people believe that the southern beach in Java is a home of Javanese mermaid queen Nyi Roro Kidul.

In "Sadko
Sadko
Sadko is a Russian medieval epic . The title character is an adventurer, merchant and gusli musician from Novgorod.-Synopsis:Sadko played the gusli on the shores of a lake. The Sea Tsar enjoyed his music, and offered to help him...

" , a Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n medieval epic, the title character - an adventurer, merchant and gusli musician from Novgorod - lives for some time in the underwater court of the "Sea Tsar" and marries his daughter before finally returning home. The tale inspired such works as the poem "Sadko" by Alexei Tolstoy (1871–1872), the opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 Sadko
Sadko (opera)
Sadko is an opera in seven scenes by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The libretto was written by the composer, with assistance from Vladimir Belsky, Vladimir Stasov, and others. Rimsky-Korsakov was first inspired by the bylina of Sadko in 1867, when he completed a tone poem on the subject, his Op. 5...

composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

  and the painting by Ilya Repin.


Claimed sightings


Claimed sightings of dead or living mermaids have come from places as diverse as Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

 and British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

. There are two Canadian reports from the area of Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

 and Victoria, one from sometime between 1870 and 1890, the other from 1967.. In some of the earliest accounts of Blackbeard's sail logs in the BBC documentary Pirates, he instructed his crew on several voyages to steer away from charted waters which he called "enchanted" for fear of Merfolk or mermaids, which Blackbeard and many members of the crew reported seeing and documenting. These sighting were often recounted and shared by many sailors and pirates who believed the mermaids were bad luck and would bewitch them into giving up their gold and dragging them to the bottom of the seas.

In August 2009, the town of Kiryat Yam in Israel offered a prize of $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

1 million for anyone who could prove the existence of a mermaid off its coast, after dozens of people reported seeing a mermaid leaping out of the water like a dolphin and doing aerial tricks before returning to the depths. The prize has not yet been awarded.

Symbolism


According to Dorothy Dinnerstein
Dorothy Dinnerstein
Dorothy Dinnerstein was an American feminist academic and activist, best known for her book The Mermaid and the Minotaur , published in the UK as The Rocking of the Cradle and the Ruling of the World...

’s book, The Mermaid and the Minotaur, human-animal hybrids such as the minotaur and the mermaid convey the emergent understanding of the ancients that human beings were both one with and different from animals:
"[Human] nature is internally inconsistent, that our continuities with, and our differences from, the earth's other animals are mysterious and profound; and in these continuities, and these differences, lie both a sense of strangeness on earth and the possible key to a way of feeling at home here."

Human divers


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 plausable 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.


Art and literature



One influential image was created by John William Waterhouse
John William Waterhouse
John William Waterhouse was an English painter known for working in the Pre-Raphaelite style. He worked several decades after the breakup of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which had seen its heydey in the mid-nineteenth century, leading him to have gained the moniker of "the modern Pre-Raphaelite"...

, from 1895 to 1905, entitled A Mermaid, (see the top of this article). An example of late British Academy style artwork, the piece debuted to considerable acclaim (and secured Waterhouse's place as a member of the Royal Academy
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

), but disappeared into a private collection and did not resurface until the 1970s. It is currently once again in the collection of the Royal Academy
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

.

Famous in more recent centuries is Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author, fairy tale writer, and poet noted for his children's stories. These include "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "The Snow Queen," "The Little Mermaid," "Thumbelina," "The Little Match Girl," and "The Ugly Duckling."...

's fairy tale
Fairy tale
A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features such folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. However, only a small number of the stories refer to fairies...

 The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid
"The Little Mermaid" is a popular fairy tale by the Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen about a young mermaid willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul and the love of a human prince...

(1836), which has been translated into many languages. Andersen's portrayal, immortalized with a famous bronze sculpture in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 harbour, has arguably become the standard and has influenced most modern Western depictions of mermaids since it was published. The mermaid, as conceived by Andersen, appears to represent the Undines
Ondine (mythology)
Undines , also called ondines, are elementals, enumerated as the water elementals in works of alchemy by Paracelsus. They also appear in European folklore as fairy-like creatures; the name may be used interchangeably with those of other water spirits. Undines are said to be able to gain a soul by...

 of Paracelsus
Paracelsus
Paracelsus was a German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist....

, which also could only obtain an immortal soul by marrying a human being.

The best known musical depictions of mermaids are those by Felix Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

 in his Fair Melusina overture and the three "Rhine daughters" in Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

's Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

. Lorelei
Lorelei
The Lorelei is a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine near St. Goarshausen, Germany, which soars some 120 metres above the waterline. It marks the narrowest part of the river between Switzerland and the North Sea. A very strong current and rocks below the waterline have caused many boat...

, the name of one of the Rhine mermaids, has become a synonym for a siren. A more recent depiction in contemporary concert music is The Weeping Mermaid by Taiwanese composer Fan-Long Ko.

Sue Monk Kidd
Sue Monk Kidd
Sue Monk Kidd is a writer from the Southern United States, best known for her novel, The Secret Life of Bees.- Biography :Kidd, who was born in Sylvester, Georgia, graduated from Texas Christian University with a B.S...

 has written a book called The Mermaid Chair
The Mermaid Chair
The Mermaid Chair is a 2005 novel written by American novelist Sue Monk Kidd, which has also been adapted as a Lifetime movie-Synopsis:...

. The title comes from a mermaid who becomes a (fictional) saint.

Saint James Comics
Saint James Comics
Saint James Comics is an American independent comic book publisher based in Detroit, Michigan. It was founded in 2009 by Robert James Russell and Jesse Young with the goal of publishing the sorts of comics they enjoyed reading themselves.-List of titles:...

 published an 8-page comic in which the mermaid queen Atargatis captures two adventurers and attempts to imprison them forever.

Movie depictions include the comedy Splash
Splash (film)
Splash is a 1984 American fantasy romantic comedy film directed by Ron Howard and written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The original music score was composed by Lee Holdridge...

(1984
1984 in film
-Events:* The Walt Disney Company founds Touchstone Pictures to release movies with subject matter deemed inappropriate for the Disney name.* Tri-Star Pictures, a joint venture of Columbia Pictures, HBO, and CBS, releases its first film....

) and "Aquamarine
Aquamarine (film)
Aquamarine is a 2006 Australian-American teen fantasy comedy film starring Sara Paxton, Emma Roberts, and Joanna "JoJo" Levesque . The film, which was made in both the United States and Australia, was released in North America on March 3, 2006...

"(2006
2006 in film
- Highest-grossing films :Please note that following the tradition of the English-language film industry, these are the top-grossing films that were first released in the United States in 2006...

). A 1963 episode, The Cruelest Sea, of the television series Route 66
Route 66 (TV series)
Route 66 is an American TV series in which two young men traveled across America. The show ran weekly on CBS from 1960 to 1964. It starred Martin Milner as Tod Stiles and, for two and a half seasons, George Maharis as Buz Murdock. Maharis was ill for much of the third season, during which time Tod...

, featured a real mermaid working at Weeki Wachee aquatic park. Mermaids also appeared in the popular supernatural drama television series Charmed
Charmed
Charmed is an American television series that originally aired from October 7, 1998, until May 21, 2006, on the now defunct The WB Television Network. The series was created in 1998 by writer Constance M...

, and were the basis of its spin-off
Spin-off (media)
In media, a spin-off is a radio program, television program, video game, or any narrative work, derived from one or more already existing works, that focuses, in particular, in more detail on one aspect of that original work...

 series Mermaid. In Mermaid Chronicles Part 1: She Creature (2001), two carnival workers abduct a mermaid in Ireland, circa 1900, and attempt to transport her to America.


In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a 2011 adventure fantasy film and the fourth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series...

 old and new myths about mermaids are mixed. Mermaids are said to sing to sailors to entice them and enchant them into the water. Once in the water, they take the sailor down to the depths of the sea where the sailor drowns, and the mermaids eat them. Mermaids that are taken onto dry land change and have legs, but they will dry up and die if out of water too long. The kiss of a mermaid will physically heal a human, and her tears have magical properties, needed to activate the true power of the Fountain of Youth
Fountain of Youth
The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus, the Alexander romance, and the stories of Prester John...

.

Animated films include Disney's popular musical version of Andersen's tale, The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid (1989 film)
The Little Mermaid is a 1989 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name. Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, the film was originally released to theaters on November 14, 1989 and is the twenty-eighth film in...

, and Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki
is a Japanese manga artist and prominent film director and animator of many popular anime feature films. Through a career that has spanned nearly fifty years, Miyazaki has attained international acclaim as a maker of animated feature films and, along with Isao Takahata, co-founded Studio Ghibli,...

's Ponyo.


Heraldry


In heraldry
Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

, the charge of a mermaid is commonly represented with a comb and a mirror, and blazoned as a 'mermaid in her vanity'. Merfolk were used to symbolize eloquence in speech.

A shield and sword-wielding mermaid (Syrenka
Siren
In Greek mythology, the Sirens were three dangerous mermaid like creatures, portrayed as seductresses who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Roman poets placed them on an island called Sirenum scopuli...

) is on the official Coat of arms of Warsaw
Coat of arms of Warsaw
The Coat of Arms of Warsaw consists of a syrenka in a red field. Polish syrenka is cognate with siren, but she is more properly a fresh-water mermaid called “Melusina.” This imagery has been in use since at least the mid-14th century...

. The city of Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 242,803 as of the 2010 Census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach....

 also uses a mermaid as a symbol. The capital city of Hamilton, Bermuda
Hamilton, Bermuda
Hamilton is the capital of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. It is the territory's financial centre and a major port and tourist destination.-Geography:...

 has the mermaid in its coat of arms.

The personal coat of arms of Michaëlle Jean
Michaëlle Jean
Michaëlle Jean is a Canadian journalist and stateswoman who served as Governor General of Canada, the 27th since Canadian Confederation, from 2005 to 2010....

, a former Governor General of Canada
Governor General of Canada
The Governor General of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II...

, features two mermaids as supporters.

Hoaxes


During the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 eras, dugong
Dugong
The dugong is a large marine mammal which, together with the manatees, is one of four living species of the order Sirenia. It is the only living representative of the once-diverse family Dugongidae; its closest modern relative, Steller's sea cow , was hunted to extinction in the 18th century...

s, frauds
Jenny Haniver
A Jenny Haniver is the carcass of a ray or a skate which has been modified and subsequently dried, resulting in a grotesque preserved specimen.One suggestion for the origin of the term was the French phrase jeune d'Anvers...

 and victims of sirenomelia
Sirenomelia
Sirenomelia, alternatively known as Mermaid Syndrome, is a very rare congenital deformity in which the legs are fused together, giving them the appearance of a mermaid's tail....

 were exhibited in wunderkammers as mermaids.

In the 19th century, P. T. Barnum
P. T. Barnum
Phineas Taylor Barnum was an American showman, businessman, scam artist and entertainer, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus....

 displayed in his museum a taxidermal
Taxidermy
Taxidermy is the act of mounting or reproducing dead animals for display or for other sources of study. Taxidermy can be done on all vertebrate species of animals, including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians...

 hoax called the Fiji mermaid
Fiji mermaid
The Fiji mermaid was an object comprising the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish, covered in papier-mâché...

.
Others have perpetrated similar hoaxes, which are usually papier-mâché
Papier-mâché
Papier-mâché , alternatively, paper-mache, is a composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive, such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste....

 fabrications or parts of deceased creatures, usually monkeys and fish, stitched together for the appearance of a grotesque mermaid. In the wake of the 2004 tsunami, pictures of Fiji "mermaids" circulated on the Internet as supposed examples of items that had washed up amid the devastation, though they were no more real than Barnum's exhibit.

Sirenia


Sirenia
Sirenia
Sirenia is an order of fully aquatic, herbivorous mammals that inhabit swamps, rivers, estuaries, marine wetlands, and coastal marine waters. Four species are living, in two families and genera. These are the dugong and manatees...

 is an order of fully aquatic, herbivorous mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s that inhabit rivers, estuaries, coastal marine waters, swamps, and marine wetlands. Sirenians, including manatees and the dugong
Dugong
The dugong is a large marine mammal which, together with the manatees, is one of four living species of the order Sirenia. It is the only living representative of the once-diverse family Dugongidae; its closest modern relative, Steller's sea cow , was hunted to extinction in the 18th century...

, have major aquatic adaptations: arms used for steering, a paddle used for propulsion, hind limbs (legs) are two small bones floating deep in the muscle. They appear fat, but are fusiform, hydrodynamic, and highly muscular. Prior to the mid 19th century, mariners referred to these animals as mermaids.

Sirenomelia


Sirenomelia
Sirenomelia
Sirenomelia, alternatively known as Mermaid Syndrome, is a very rare congenital deformity in which the legs are fused together, giving them the appearance of a mermaid's tail....

, also called "mermaid syndrome", is a rare congenital disorder
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

 in which a child is born with his or her legs fused together and reduced genitalia
Sex organ
A sex organ, or primary sexual characteristic, as narrowly defined, is any of the anatomical parts of the body which are involved in sexual reproduction and constitute the reproductive system in a complex organism; flowers are the reproductive organs of flowering plants, cones are the reproductive...

. This condition is about as rare as conjoined twins
Conjoined twins
Conjoined twins are identical twins whose bodies are joined in utero. A rare phenomenon, the occurrence is estimated to range from 1 in 50,000 births to 1 in 100,000 births, with a somewhat higher incidence in Southwest Asia and Africa. Approximately half are stillborn, and a smaller fraction of...

, affecting one out of every 100,000 live births and is usually fatal within a day or two of birth because of kidney
Kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

 and bladder
Urinary bladder
The urinary bladder is the organ that collects urine excreted by the kidneys before disposal by urination. A hollow muscular, and distensible organ, the bladder sits on the pelvic floor...

 complications. Four survivors were known to be alive as of July 2003.

See also

  • Cryptid
    Cryptid
    In cryptozoology and sometimes in cryptobotany, a cryptid is a creature or plant whose existence has been suggested but is unrecognized by scientific consensus and often regarded as highly unlikely. Famous examples include the Yeti in the Himalayas and the Loch Ness Monster in...

  • Ethereal being
    Ethereal being
    Ethereal beings, according to some belief systems and occult theories, are mystic entities that usually are not made of ordinary matter. Despite the fact that they are believed to be essentially incorporeal, they do interact in physical shapes with the material universe and travel between the...

  • Ichthyosis
    Ichthyosis
    Ichthyosis is a heterogeneous family of at least 28, generalized, mostly genetic skin disorders. All types of ichthyosis have dry, thickened, scaly or flaky skin...

  • List of piscine and amphibian humanoids
  • Merlion
    Merlion
    The Merlion is a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, used as a mascot of Singapore. Its name combines "mer" meaning the sea and "lion". The fish body represents Singapore's origin as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, which means "sea town" in Javanese...

  • Sea monster
    Sea monster
    Sea monsters are sea-dwelling mythical or legendary creatures, often believed to be of immense size.Marine monsters can take many forms, including sea dragons, sea serpents, or multi-armed beasts. They can be slimy or scaly and are often pictured threatening ships or spouting jets of water...

  • Selkie
    Selkie
    Selkies are mythological creatures that are found in Faroese, Icelandic, Irish, and Scottish folklore....


External links