Mermaid Facts: Everything You Need To Know

June 12, 2019

Mermaid Facts

Because the official stance on mermaids from the NOAA is that no aquatic evidence has ever been found, it’s hard to come up with mermaid facts. However, one cannot deny that mermaids have had a strong presence throughout history, and in different locations around the world. In this article, we will cover some facts about mermaids gathered from real-life stories, art, and legends.

Mermaid facts

How do mermaids reproduce?

Mermaid facts


Let’s start out with a popular one. The age-old question, “How do mermaids have sex?” Well, there are 2 different theories and it depends on if you think mermaids are closer to pelagic fish (swordfish, tuna mackerel family), or dolphins and whales.

If you believe mermaids are a mix between human and the pelagic family, then the theory of spanning is your answer. Spanning is essentially group orgies (sorry mom) where the female releases eggs into the water, and the male swims by and fertilizes them. This is done in groups a few times a year. After the eggs are fertilized, the embryo rises to a safe level in the water where there are less prey and plenty of food to eat once hatched. This implies that there isn’t much attachment to mother and child.

Mermaid facts

If you believe mermaids are more like dolphins or whales then it’s fairly similar to a human with some slight anatomy variations. The mermaid is impregnated by a merman, and she carries the baby full term and has a strong bond with the child for its first few years for its survival.

There is also a theory that mermaids just “do it” in human form which spurs some questions. Do mermaids only have sex with human men and not mermen? Or do mermen change as well and they just find a beach somewhere?

When were the first illustrations of mermaids in history?

Mermaid facts

The first stories of mermaids appear in 1000 BC starting with the Goddess Atagartis. She was transformed into a mermaid after her lover died from her divine lovemaking. She was so beautiful, the Gods made her into a mermaid and she is worshiped in some parts of Siria to this day.

Cave of Swimmers

Mermaid facts

The cave of swimmers is located in Egypt and has caves full of people swimming. In the Mockumentary from Animal Planet “Mermaids: The Body Found” show a cave full of ancient depictions of mermaids. Unfortunately, this is fake.  There are illustrations of humans swimming, but nothing of mermaids. Sad, I know.

When was the most recent mermaid sighting documented?

In 2009, dozens of people at the Haifa Bay in Israel saw a mermaid doing ariel tricks. In 2012 Zimbabwe, some construction workers claimed a mermaid was ruining their efforts to build the dam and refused to work on it.

How many different kinds of mermaids are there?


Mermaids are known throughout the world through every stage of history. There are at least 20 prominent types of mermaids living in the ocean, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls.

Check out this quiz to see what type of mermaid you are!

Are mermaids friendly?

Mermaid facts
Mermaid Haley

Yes and no. It depends on which type of mermaids you encounter. Sirens are known for their mischievous and dangerous natures, but there are friendly and protective mermaids out there.  The following mermaids are known to kill humans so beware!

  • Siren
  • Merrow
  • Ceasg
  • Morgens
  • Finfolk
  • Encantado
  • Mami Wata
  • Iara

The more friendly types of mermaids you want as your friends are any sort of water nymphs like the Nereides, Naiades, or Oceanid. You can also run into Sirena Chilota or an Aicaya without any problems. As tempting as it is, you probably want to keep your distance.  Most people throughout history considered mermaids bad omens.

Read more about each of these mermaids here! 

Alesha the Las Vegas Mermaid
Mermaid Alesha

What’s going on with the Starbucks logo?

Did you know that the Starbucks logo is a mermaid? Look close and you can see she is holding up two tails which are actually her own legs/fins. “What? Mermaids don’t have two tails?” you say? Well, in some parts of history they did. 16th-century Nordic sirens were depicted with two tails.

The name “Starbucks” comes from the classic novel Moby Dick. Captain Ahab’s first mate was called Starbuck. The Seattle owners almost named the company after the ship called “Pequods” but then realized saying “Have a cup of Pequords” sounded really funny.  So after the name came the logo. Why a mermaid? The founders lived in Seattle and had strong ties to the sea. They also liked the correlation how coffee travels over the sea to get to customers and mermaids are travelers of the sea.

There have been different variations of the logo. The first was the bare-breasted Nordic wood illustration, the second seemed a little provocative showing the whole body with legs extended. Now she is covered with her hair and her pelvic region is cropped out.

Mermaid facts

How do mermaids die?

This particular question is up for debate. According to Hans Christian Anderson, Mermaids live for 300 years then turn to sea foam when they die. The more realistic answer is mermaids die and like any other mammal or fish in the ocean, they sink to the bottom and the circle of life takes over.

There are theories that sunlight and dehydration are deadly to mermaids. This explains why they are nocturnal hunters and if they turn to humans, never travel very far from the water.

What do mermaids eat?


There are many theories surrounding a mermaid diet. The first is that mermaids eat fish like sharks and dolphins do from the ocean. But if mermaids eat fish, then Sebastian and Flounder are really misinformed with who they should be hanging out with. If mermaids are plant-eating mammals, then they fall in line with the manatee theory.  The most accurate answer is that they probably eat a variety of plants, fish and crustaceans in the ocean.  Another possibility is the slightly disturbing idea that mermaids eat sailors who get lost at sea. Good source of protein? What do you think?

What is the difference between sirens and mermaids?

Originally, Sirens were actually half bird rather than half fish as written in The Odyssey. Sirens did sing and were notorious for causing storms, shipwrecks, and death. Somewhere along the way, they got mixed up with mermaids who are actually half fish and half human.

Today Sirens are portrayed with a tail but often fall into more of an evil role who sing more men to their deaths. Mermaids, on the other hand, are usually seen as beautiful friendly women with long hair who are curious about the human world.

Manatees and Mermaids

Mermaid facts

Were all those lonely sailors really mentally primed to see a beautiful mermaid offshore? Can anyone be that desperate? Maybe. Because the sea was so unexplored and mysterious, there is a good chance the manatees were mistaken as mermaids. There are similar characteristics but did a skilled sailor like Christopher Columbus really mistake them? Tell me what you think?

So…Are mermaids real?

This will have to be a personal question for yourself. Some people swear they have seen them, and others say they only exist in the mind. The NOAA says:

The belief in mermaids may have arisen at the very dawn of our species. Magical female figures first appear in cave paintings in the late Paleolithic (Stone Age) period some 30,000 years ago, when modern humans  gained dominion over the land and, presumably, began to sail the seas. Half-human creatures, called chimeras, also abound in mythology — in addition to mermaids, there were wise centaurs, wild satyrs, and frightful minotaurs, to name but a few.

But are mermaids real? No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists.

So tell me what you think!

Did we miss any mermaid facts?

Please comment below any I might have left out!

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 world 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.

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