Mermaid Facts – From History To Pop Culture

July 31, 2019

Mermaids have influenced and impacted our cultures over the centuries. We all love to fantasize if real mermaids exist and there are plenty of stories out there to support it! In the meantime, check out these mermaid facts from history and legends, to pop culture and new mermaid movies coming out! Enjoy!

Historical mermaid Facts

The First Mermaid

Mermaid Facts

The first mermaid or half-human recordings come from ancient Syria, with a woman name was Atargatis. She was a beautiful and powerful priestess who fell in love with a human shepherd boy. He, simply being mortal, did not survive her divine lovemaking and died. She became pregnant with his baby and soon became distraught and remorseful. After the birth of a baby girl Semiranis on the shore, she threw herself into the ocean to drown. Her beauty was so great that the Gods did not let her die, but changed her into a Mermaid with the upper body of a woman, and lower body of a fish.

Sirens and feathers?

In the Greek mythology tale “The Iliad,” Odysseus asked his crew to tie him to the ship’s mast to prevent him from falling in love with a mermaid and drowning himself in the sea. These mermaids were not only deadly and vicious, but they also had feathers and could fly! These mythical creatures later transformed into the siren-esque mermaids that lure men to their deaths that we know today.

Mermaid Symbolism Throughout History

Mermaid Facts

In the Middle Ages, this view evolved to more of a symbol of sin and seduction. The medieval church used mermaids and sirens to teach Christians about sin, salvation, and promiscuity. It was also told that seeing a mermaid was a bad omen and warned of a storm approaching with an inevitable sinking ship and death to the one who saw her. 

The name “Mermaid” literally means woman of the sea

The Old English word “Mer” simply meant “of the sea.” So combining the Mer (meaning sea) and maid (meaning woman) the result is women of the sea. Makes perfect sense!

Manatees and Mermaids

Mermaid Facts

There is a good chance that lonely sailors mistook mermaids for manatees. Some accounts say that Christopher Columbus was seeing manatees rather than mermaids and even mistook a manatee skeleton for a mermaid. Did the sailors who were enchanted by the sea expect to see a mermaid, and when something resembled a maiden with a fishtail, it fit the bill? Or were these sailors really experts and have an accurate account of what they saw. We know only 5% of the ocean has been explored, so you be the judge.

Not really facts, but mermaid legends

NOAA says “No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found” however, the number of mermaid sightings throughout history would say otherwise. These facts/legends come from different parts of the world and are fun to know, but are hard to prove as fact.

Mermaids are powerful

Mermaid Facts
Mermaid Hyli

Mermaids are water deities which have power over the elements. They get their powers being close to the water so they can’t stray too far their aquatic home.  They can bless a nearby town with clean water, or if you upset them, they can do the opposite and really cause havoc.  Immortality, hypnosis, telepathy, and seduction are also powers that a mermaid can possess.

Mermaids are more beautiful than all the human race

Mermaids drive sailors crazy from their beauty. It possibly could be an evolved predatory tactic so mermaids could have their way with the human race, but mermaids are notorious for their breathtaking beauty.

Mermaid Facts
See through Sea Tails

A Mermaids Kiss

A kiss from a mermaid can be pretty magical. It has the ability to give you gills so you can breathe underwater. It could also be the secret fountain of youth or provide you powers to heal people. If you had the chance, would you kiss a mermaid?

Types of Mermaids

Mermaid Facts
Moira the Mermaid

There are multiple types of mermaids recorded throughout history, however, these can all be categorized into 4 groups. Traditional mermaids like Oceanids live in the oceans or big open water areas, Selkies are found near the UK and Ireland who shed their mermaid tails and have legs to walk around on land, Shape Shifters are known around the world and can transform into a human form whenever they like, and last are the Merfolk who mainly live on land but often travel to the sea in order to recharge their water spirits.

To read more about the types of mermaids, click here!

Mermaids Love to love

Mermaids will often fall in love with humans. Some say, falling in love will cure for them of their tails so they can have legs forever.  Others mermaids seek out a human to have children with. If you do by chance fall in love with a mermaid, your luck has changed forever. Mermaids are great companions and often provide lifelong luck and cater to their spouses ever wish.

Mermaid Facts
Vero Beach Mermaid

Mermaid tears are actually the aquamarine stone

The ocean gemstone called Aquamarine is supposably mermaid tears when they part from a mermaids face. These stones are known to have magical powers if one possesses them.  To those who get their hands on this mermaid tear, it’s known to have protective and healing powers associated with them.

Facts between Mermaids and mermen

Mermen came before mermaids

Mermaid Facts
Eric From The Mertailor

Mermen such as Neptune, Posiden, and Babylonian god Oannes were around long before the Goddess Atargatis. These water deities didn’t have tails but had powers to control the waters and worshiped in different cultures. Triton came soon after who was depicted with a beard, tails, and a trident or conch shell.

Mermaids are more confident than mermen

The male members of the underwater race of merfolk called as merman are supposedly more shy and secretive than their female counterparts. Nearly all mermaid stories suggest that mermen never came to the surface of the ocean whereas the females have been very active in their appearances on the ocean’s surface. Perhaps the mermen are content in their underwater kingdom and have no interest in the human world.

Mermen seem to be getting the short end of the trident

Depending on which era you are looking at, mermen could either be glorious gods with muscles and beards like in the Greecian time they could be extremely ugly with seaweed-like hair and green skin like in the Irish culture.  It seems that the popularity of the Mermen really started to recede compared to the mermaid.

Mermaid Facts
Merman Jax

In a google search for mermaids compared to mermen, it appears that mermaids are18 times more popular than mermen. That’s right “Mermaid,” generated 78,100,000 search results, and “Merman,” returned only 4,260,000 results. This does seem to be minutely changing as more men are getting into the sport and wearing tails.

It does make you wonder why mermaids are always looking for humans and sailors to fall in love with… why don’t they just stick to their own kind?

Pop culture mermaid facts

performing mermaids!

You can see live mermaids performances at Weeki Wachee in Florida! Around 1500 mermaids have been performing at the Florida Springs for nearly 60 years. With these underwater windows, each mermaid show lasts about 45 minutes with each mermaid submerged for 15 minutes with the help of underwater air hoses. A must-see for mermaid fans.

Mermaid Facts

How long did it take to put on?

In the classic 1984 film, “Splash” Daryl Hannah‘s mermaid tail was 35 pounds and took 3 hours to put on every time they did a shot. She says “At lunch, they’d yank me out on a crane and plop me on the deck,” she told People. “I couldn’t eat because I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I just lay there shivering with barnacles in my hair, soaking wet.” At times, they would glue the tail to her skin to make it look more realistic. On a sad note, the tail wasn’t made of silicone and started to deteriorate after the show was completed.

A new splash movie

What would make a mermaid show even better? One that stared Channing Tatum! Yes, you read that right, the 80s movie “Splash” is now being produced but instead of a mermaid falling in love with Tom Hanks, Channing Tatum will be the Merman who falls in love with a woman! What a fun twist! Release date unknown.

Mermaid Facts

Live ACtion Little Mermaid

Yes! This Disney remake is 100% happening. It has been “just a thought” for so long but they just cast Halle Bailey to be the new Ariel! Some people don’t like that she isn’t white or have red long hair but COME ON PEOPLE! Really? It’s 2019, we should be over this by now! On an exciting note, Melissa Macharthy might be playing Ursula (girly squeal)!

Movie stars and Silicone Tails

Have seen a music video with Lady Gaga wearing a black mermaid tail in the bathtub?

She isn’t the only celebrity to get into the mermaid scene.  Tails are featured on music videos like “I’m on a boat” from Saturday Night Live, or “Feral Hearts” by Kerli from The Mertailor.

pirates of the Caribbean Prop

There were some rumors going around about a mermaid body was found on the beach but in actuality, this was a prop used for the film Pirates of the Caribbean. The structure took 6 full weeks to create and only used for a few seconds in the film.

Mermaid Facts

modern-day mermaids

With in the last 5 years or so, mermaid tails have become more available than ever. You can live your dream as a mermaid no matter what age you are with fabric and silicone tails. You can see mermaid performances around the world in aquariums, parades, and even hire them for your birthday parties. A professional mermaid is actually a career now.

Disney’s the Little mermaid facts

It’s not the original story

Just in case you don’t know, the original story was written by Hans Christian Andersen and it’s very different from the Disney version. In his story, little Ariel doesn’t get the guy and turns into sea foam in the end. To read the full real story, click here.

The Classic Red Hair Was Almost Blonde

Ariel’s classic red hair was a huge point of contention among the team members. Red was eventually chosen because it is a complementary color of her green tail, and the Daryl Hannah movie “Splash” recently came out. In that movie,  she had blonde long hair and the producers didn’t want the two mermaids looking similar.

Mermaid Facts

“Ariel” is now a color of green

The green-blue color of Ariel’s tail was a new color created in Disney’s paint lab and is still part of their collection as the name “Ariel” in her honor.

Sebastian was almost Brittish

Could you imagine Sebastian being anything besides Jamaican? Well, he was originally supposed to be a stuffy British butler crab named Clarence.  It wasn’t until the music was created with a Rastafarian sound that Sebastian became part of the Carribean.

All Ariels Sisters

Mermaid Facts

Could you name any of Ariel’s sisters? Well, each name started with an “A” and some have a history behind the name.

  • Atina was inspired by a musical Alan Menken wrote called “Atina: Evil Queen of the Galaxy,”
  • Alana was Howard Ashman’s lyrical nod to Alan Menken
  • Andrina was the name of one of the director’s aerobics instructors.

Flounder is not a flounder fish

Flounder was probably closer to a blue angelfish than an actual flounder fish. A flounder fish is flat with eyes on only one side of its body. It scours the bottom of the seafloor looking for other fish to eat.

Ursula Inspiration

Did you know the character Ursula was inspired by a drag queen? Her name is Divine who is from the original Hairspray movie. Born Harris Glenn Milstead who was closely associated with John Waters who made a bunch of trashy films until his death in 1988. Unfortunately, Divine died in 1988 and never saw his character classically immortalized as the villain Ursula. To see more similarities click here!

Mermaid Facts

Any more mermaid facts you think should be included? Comment below and I’ll add them to the list!

More about Everything Mermaid

Molly the owner of Everything Mermaid wrote this post. When she isn't writing about being a mermaid, she is usually traveling the country in an RV trade and writing about it. Her specialties include Mermaid tails, blankets, pillows, and leggings . Sign up for her Mermaid monthly newsletter and hear about discounts and product reviews.

    1. i think mermaids a real, just because know one has seen a mermaid before doesn’t mean they aren’t real.

    1. I think if mermaids wanted to they could go unseen for thousands of years living in the deepest parts of the ocean where no man/ woman has ever explored

    1. I think if mermaids wanted to they could go unseen for thousands of years living in the deepest parts of the ocean where no man/ woman has ever explored.

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