A Mermiad, 1901 painting by John William Waterhouse.

A mermaid is a kind of creature which looks like a woman from the waist up and looks like a fish from the waist down. The male equivalent is a merman. Mermaids and mermen are collectively called merpeople or merfolk. Mermaids are not new. Ever since man has travelled the sea, strange sightings of half fish, half human creatures have been reported, mostly females. Scientists say that what the sailors actually saw were sea cows but many people are not sure.

Good or evil?

There are examples in mythology of both good and evil mermaids. Here are some examples of who have been naughty and nice.


Classical mermaid: They love singing and are very human like too (the top half at least). Although sometimes when they sing, weak minded sailors cannot steer properly.

Location: Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean

Marid: The only type of genie which can live underwater, they wear clothes (unusually for their sort) and do not always have fish tails, some are even half octopus. They love trading with humans and even grant unlimited wishes to the lucky.

Location: Arabian Sea

Sea nymphs: Often pursued by the Greek gods. Some have the ability to shape shift.

Location: Mediterranean Sea

Feejee mermaid

The "Fiji Mermaid", a fake exhibited by the showman Phineas T. Barnum in 1842.


Sirens: Legends say the Greek hero Odysseus (also known as Ulysses) had to sail past the Sirens, bloodthirsty, beautiful mermaids, sometimes pictured with wings. They sang to ships which sailed by, so they would be smashed by dangerous rocks. Odysseus tied himself to his ship's mast, while his crew blocked their ears. Something like this may have happened:

Odysseus : Untie me! I want to swim to those irresistible maidens!
Crew member : What did you say?
Odysseus : Untie me!
Crew member 2 : Unfry you?
Odysseus : I said untie me!!
Crew member : How can I unfry you when I didn't fry you to begin with?
Odysseus : JUST LET ME GO!
Crew member 3 : Of course I am your amigo! BFFs we are!
Odysseus : Arrgh!

They went past the Sirens safely.

It is also said in some myths that a Siren can be killed by someone who is not affected by its song.

Location: A rocky outcrop located somewhere in the Mediterranean.

Njen: Evil Japanese mermaids.


The Evolution of Mermaids Mermaids

The Evolution of Mermaids Mermaids

Clip from a spoof documentary about the evolution of mermaids, from the official Animal Planet YouTube channel.

See also

External links

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