Meet Mermaid Linden! This lady is an inspiration for everyone in the mermaid community. She started her ocean education career back in 2005 when no mermaid tails even existed! Now she has a thriving monofin business and a successful Youtube station, with over 50 million views. She educates kids and adults about our oceans in a magical and memorable way. She travels all over the world with her tail sharing smiles, magic, and love. Keep reading to learn more about her and the moment she realized her dream.
Meet Mermaid Linden
Where are you originally from?
I was born in North Carolina and moved to Amish country in landlocked Pennsylvania where I grew up on a horse farm. I went to college at Emerson College in Boston and majored in Film and Environmental Science. This was the perfect school for me as I grew up wanting to do underwater cinematography and wildlife filmmaking.
Where did your love for the water come from?
I grew up without cable TV for most of my life, so I would watch a lot of wildlife PBS shows, nature documentaries and Jacques Cousteau programs. I was obsessed with anything under the sea and would record each episode so I could learn and memorize every fact. This was the window into the ocean for me. I wanted to grow up and do the same thing so kids all over the world could learn about ocean life, even if they lived far from the sea.
When did your passion for mermaids and ocean education collide?
My mermaid dream collided in 2005. After college, I got really into scuba diving and freediving – I was obsessed with it! I was invited to do underwater videography for a documentary about free diving down in Grand Cayman. This was the first time I ever went out of the country and needed a passport! During the filming, I saw some champion freedivers using monofins and thought they were really neat.
I asked Mandy-Rae Cruickshank (who is a world class freediver) if I could borrow her monofin to try out as we were the same shoe size. Swimming in a monofin for the first time felt like I was flying through the water. When I looked up, I was really far away from the boat. It was right then and there that I had my dream realized. I often compare it to all the lights in Las Vegas turning on all at the same time over my head. It was the best feeling! I knew I wanted to become a mermaid and rather than producing “normal” documentaries like everyone else, I would host them as a mermaid for kids making it memorable, magical, and fun.
Did the movie “The Little Mermaid” have anything to do with your passion?
Yes and no. I loved the movie and watched it until the sound on the VHS tape didn’t work anymore, but I never thought I would grow up and have a career as a professional mermaid. I was constantly in the water as a child, and all my family members were on the swim team so I knew I liked being in the water. We would all pretend to be mermaids as kids do, but it wasn’t until the age of 25 that the “Mermaid Linden” character came to be.
How did your experience with freediving help you become a mermaid?
Freedive training with professionals taught me how to increase my breath hold and dive deep distances all in one breath! My record is 5:07 for my static breath hold and the deepest dive I’ve been able to do to date is 115 feet. I don’t do depth training often at all, but think I could break my record as 115 feet pretty easily.
Do you freedive a lot?
My mermaid business keeps me really busy. I am actually a certified AIDA International freediving judge since 2006. I went from a level E judge to a level B judge and was able to travel all around the world for competitions since then. I miss it and hope to get back into judging competitions again, but have my business to run! I freedive in the kelp forests of California and in other locations whenever I travel, and swim all the time at my gym with my Mermaid Linden monofins. In that sense, I’m training often!
Does your mermaid business have you traveling a lot?
Yes, it does! I have been lucky to travel all around the globe for different events. I have traveled for photo shoots, commercials, parties, product launches, wishes, and special events. There will be times I am taking a trip for something non-mermaid related and an opportunity will come up, so I bring my tail. It’s actually rare I step on an airplane without a mermaid tail. If I can spread some mermaid magic in the classroom, fulfilling a wish for someone in the hospital, or surprising a friend, I bring the tail!
Tell me about your first tail!
Well, it felt like the stars aligned with how it all happened. Back in 2005, there was no such thing as mermaid tail tutorials and tail companies like there are today! I had a friend from college who told me about a man named Allan Holt, who was doing an underwater music video and knew I had some experience. He asked if he could make the connection. Allan and I met for dinner and he told me about his underwater project. I offered to help and we got into the conversation about my mermaid dream to educate kids. Come to find out he is a Hollywood special effects artist and was more than willing to help!
We worked for 7 months almost every day on the tail together. It was different for him as he had never done anything aquatic before that needed to last beyond a few shoots for a film or commercial. I wanted this tail to be beautiful, powerful, hydrodynamic, long lasting, and above all, fit perfectly. That was a tall order, but Allan was so brave to venture this new project with me, and without his help and expertise, it would not have been possible!
I compare life to a GPS, you have to tell it where you want to go. It’s not until then will it give you the steps and the directions you need to take in order to get there.
Do you still have your original tail?
Yes! It’s still under my bed! I have tail 1.0, and 2.0 which is a replica of the first. I don’t have a lot of tails as my character has a “standard uniform.” Personalities like Mr. Rogers had a sort of uniform, and my simple, no-frills tail with the crescent-shaped fluke is my trademark.
Tell me about your Mermaid Linden Monofin?
I really wanted kids to experience the same feeling I got when I swam with a monofin for the first time. It is modeled after my “Tail 1.0” with the unique crescent fluke shape and has comfortable straps with quick-release safety features. It first started out just for kids but as the mermaid community has grown so much, I really wanted to make them for adults as well. You might have seen them with Mertailor’s new Guppy Tails! I am so honored and excited to be a partnering with the Mertailor brand!
When did you think the mer-community really started booming?
I think it has really taken off in the last 3-4 years. The older I get the faster time flies! It seemed like a mushroom effect where mermaid companies, performers, channels, Instagram accounts, and Facebook fan pages started going crazy! I think back to when I had my first tail, and how there was absolutely nothing online! Hannah Mermaid and I (who started mermaiding around the same time I did, but we were on opposite sides of the world) will joke and laugh about the industry way back when. It’s amazing how quickly things have blossomed.
Where do you think the mermaid industry will go in the next 10 years?
I think we have a lot of room for growth. The mermaid theme has been trickling into pop culture with TV shows, entertainment, merchandise, and it seems to still be on the rise. I don’t see things plateauing anytime soon. I relate a fad to a flash in the pan, and this mermaid trend is a slow burn. We have some time before things slow down for sure! Even when things die down, there is always room for specialty and novelty within a niche.
Do you think there should be a standardized certification for professional mermaids around the world?
Yes and no. I think things are organically shifting that way. However, there are so many different fingerprints of mermaids and mermen. These positions are as unique as the person performing them. Think about how many different types of chefs are out there, for example. Should there be a standardization for them around the world? Can there be? Mermaid careers and opportunities are so diverse. To standardize it would be hard. I would say, however, that safety standardization is the most important thing. Being CPR certified, a strong swimmer, and still having a certified, competent lifeguard on duty at performances is imperative. You need insurance and liability coverage to run a proper business. The last thing you want to be is a liability to yourself or others. Protect yourself and anyone you are working with. You need to have those safety nets in place for you, your clients and your business.
What advice would you give to aspiring mermaids?
Do everything from your heart! Everyone is fed by different things and we all have different interests and desires. Find out authentically who you are within your mermaid or merman brand so you can do the best possible thing you are meant to with your best skill sets.
I truly care about educating kids about the ocean and providing a magical experience to those who are sick. I provide tools for people to get in the water and experience the magic of mermaiding for themselves so hopefully, they will become future ambassadors for the sea.
Thank you, Mermaid Linden! You were a joy to talk to and I hope one day we can meet in person!
Make sure to check out Mermaid Linden’s website and try one of her monofins! They are extremely comfortable and powerful in the water!
You can also follow her on Instagram, facebook, and youtube.
Photo of @mermaidlinden by Matthew Addison and @gregsworld