We have all heard of mermaid sightings around the world. Are they just folktales? Or, are they true but passed off as stories? I did my best to scour the internet and find every documented sighting and mapped them out for you. Please share and let me know your thoughts and if there is a sighting you would like to add!
Mermaid Sightings by map
Mermaid Sightings (2)
1st Century A.D. by Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder was a famous scientist around the time of the 1st century A.D. He wrote multiple accounts in Natural History about Nereids (a type of mermaid) which looks like women with rough, scaly bodies like fish. These Nereids were “sitting upon dolphins or other ocean creatures.”
He writes different accounts of Nereids being found dead upon the shore, or villagers hearing Titan playing his conch close to the seashore. Pliny also mentions a merman spotted in the Gulf of Cadiz who would climb up upon decks of ships in the night and whatever spot he sat instantly began to sink due to his weight. If the merman sat there long enough, the ship would go underwater.
As Pily is a scientist, can we trust his writings? Only you can decide!
Between 1040 and 1105 by Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki
Shlomo Yitzchaki is a Rabbi between the years of 1040-1105 AD and describes mermaids in the Talmud which is an ancient Jewish book of law and legend. He writes:
“There are fish in the sea with which half is in the form of man and half in the form of a fish, called sereine in Old French,”
Moshav Zekeinim, a later Rabbi comments on this phrase by saying, “This refers to the creature in the sea which is similar in part to a person, from the navel upwards, and it is similar to a woman in all aspects, in that it has breasts and long hair like that of a woman, and from the navel downwards it is a fish,” it also mentions that these mermaids sing beautifully and have a pleasant voice.
Mid 13th Century The Book “Speculum Regale”
In a mid 13th century book called Speculum Regale, it describes a mermaid washed ashore on the coast of Greenland.
“Like a woman as far down as her waist, long hands, and soft hair, the neck and head in all respects like those of a human being. The hands seem to be long, and the fingers not to be pointed, but united into a web like that on the feet of water birds. From the waist downwards this monster resembles a fish, with scales, tail, and fins. This shows itself, especially before heavy storms.
The habit of this creature is to dive frequently and rise again to the surface with fishes in its hands. When sailors see it playing with the fish, or throwing them towards the ship, they fear that they are doomed to lose several of the crew; but when it casts the fish from the vessel, then the sailors take it as a good omen that they will not suffer loss in the impending storm. This monster has a very horrible face, with broad brow and piercing eyes, a wide mouth and double chin.”
1430 Netherlands – The Dutch Mermaid
In the city of Kampen Netherlands during the year of 1403, it’s recorded a dike had a crack which opened to the sea. Water started flooding the river in massive amounts. After the locals repaired it, they saw a mermaid swimming in the river near the town. At first, people were scared but the mermaid didn’t bother anyone and just kept swimming. Later the villagers captured the mermaid and she transformed into a human with two legs. She couldn’t speak, but they forced her to join their society. The mermaid tried to escape and jump back into the water multiple times, but someone was always there to stop her.
1493 by Christopher Columbus
On January 9th, 1493, Christopher Columbus was sailing near the Dominican Republic and wrote in his journal about 3 mermaids he saw:
“They were not as beautiful as they are painted, although to some extent they have a human appearance in the face.”
There is a good chance that these were manatees but would a skilled sailor really mistake them?
1603 by Thomas Raynold
In 1603, a mermaid was spotted off the coast of Wales, near Pendine. A farmer named Thomas Raynold first spotted the creature, and then called others over to watch the mermaid for three whole hours!
William Saunders, also from the same area Pendine, examined Raynold and the other witness accounts. The story was credible enough that in 1604, an image was created to depict the mermaid. It described her as a “monstrous fish that appeared in the form of a woman from her waist upward.”
With so many multiple accounts, we have to believe they saw something!
1608 by Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson is a famous English sea explorer who sailed all over the world. He writes in his journal;
“This morning one of our companie looking over boord saw a mermaid, and calling up some of the companie to see her, one more came up and by that tune shee was come close to the ships side, looking earnestly on the men: a little after a sea came and overturned her: from the navill upward her backe and breasts were like a womans, as they say that saw her; her body as big as one of us; her skin very white, and long haire hanging downe behind of colour blacke: in her going downe they saw her tayle, which was like the tayle of a porposse and speckled like a macrell.”
1614 by Captain John Smith
We all know the story of Pocahontas and John Smith, but did you know he also saw mermaids?
While sailing off the coast of Massachusetts, he writes
“the upper part of her body perfectly resembled that of a woman, and she was swimming about with all possible grace near the shore.” It had “large eyes, rather too round, a finely shaped nose (a little too short), well-formed ears, rather too long, and her long green hair imparted to her an original character by no means unattractive.”
There are skeptics who say that John Smith never wrote this and it was a paper trying to spice up the writing for the viewers so you tell me! What do you think?
1670 by Rev. Lucas Debes
Lucas Debes was a Reverand for the Lutheran Church just off the Islands of Denmark in Faroes. He writes an account of what he saw saying
“There was seen . . . by many of the inhabitants . . . a Mer-maid close to the shore . . . She had long hair on her head, which hung down to the surface of the water all round about her. She held a fish . . . in her right hand.”
It’s not a lot of contexts, but a man of God would never lie, right?
These real mermaid stories could have possibly inspired Hans Christian Anderson to later write the classic tale of the little mermaid as he was born in Denmark.
1718 by Samuel Fallours
During the 18th Century, Europeans traveled all over the world and established colonies throughout the Indian Ocean and South Pacific. As they encountered new plants and animals, they would draw the creatures. A painter named Samual Fallours included a real mermaid drawing in 1718.
Fallours claimed that he caught the mermaid himself and brought her into his house. He then drew the picture of the mermaid and tried to nurse it back to health. Fallours wrote that the mermaid lived in a container of water and squeaked like a mouse. After four days, the mermaid died of starvation because she refused to eat.
1739 in the City of Exeter
This article back in 1739 describes an account of fisherman seeing “a creature” leap out and run away from them near the City of Exeter. They say:
“At their coming up to it, it was dying, having groan’d like a human creature: Its feet were webb’d like a duck’s, it had eyes, nose, and mouth resembling those of a man, only the nose somewhat depress’d; a tail not unlike a salmon’s, turning up towards its back, and is four feet high.”
It was publicly shown in the city.
1797 by William Munro
William was a schoolteacher off the coast of northern England who discovered a mermaid combing her hair near the shore. His account writes:
“About twelve years ago when I was Parochial Schoolmaster at Reay, in the course of my walking on the shore of Sandside Bay, being a fine warm day in summer, I was induced to extend my walk towards Sandside Head, when my attention was arrested by the appearance of a figure resembling an unclothed human female, sitting upon a rock extending into the sea, and apparently in the action of combing its hair, which flowed around its shoulders, and of a light brown colour. The resemblance which the figure bore to its prototype in all its visible parts was so striking, that had not the rock on which it was sitting been dangerous for bathing, I would have been constrained to have regarded it as really an human form, and to an eye unaccustomed to the situation, it must have undoubtedly appeared as such.
The head was covered with hair of the colour above mentioned and shaded on the crown, the forehead round, the face plump. The cheeks ruddy, the eyes blue, the mouth and lips of a natural form, resembling those of a man; the teeth I could not discover, as the mouth was shut; the breasts and abdomen, the arms and fingers of the size in which the hands were employed, did not appear to be webbed, but as to this I am not positive.
It remained on the rock three or four minutes after I observed it, and was exercised during that period in combing its hair, which was long and thick, and of which it appeared proud, and then dropped into the sea, which was level with the abdomen, from whence it did not reappear to me, I had a distinct view of its features, being at no great distance on an eminence above the rock on which it was sitting, and the sun brightly shining.”
He goes on to say:
“Immediately before its getting into its natural element it seemed to have observed me, as the eyes were directed towards the eminence on which I stood. It may be necessary to remark, that previous to the period I beheld the object, I had heard it frequently reported by several persons, and some of them person whose veracity I never heard disputed, that they had seen such a phenomenon as I have described, though then, like many others, I was not disposed to credit their testimony on this subject. I can say of a truth, that it was only by seeing the phenomenon, I was perfectly convinced of its existence.”
If the above narrative can in any degree be subservient towards establishing the existence of a phenomenon hitherto almost incredible to naturalists, or to remove the skepticism of others, who are ready to dispute everything which they cannot fully comprehend, you are welcome to it from,
Your most obliged, and most humble servant,
1801 by Governor Van Battenburgh
Van Battenburgh, who was the governor at the time at the Island of Berbice in the Caribbean, gives the following account and description of their local mermaids.
“The upper portion resembles the human figure, the head smaller in proportion, sometimes bare, but oftener covered with a copious quantity of long black hair. The shoulders are broad, and the breasts large and well formed. The lower portion resembles the tail-portion of a fish, is of immense dimension, the tail forked, and not unlike that of the dolphin, as it is usually represented. The colour of the skin is either black or tawny. The animal is held in veneration and dread by the Indians, who imagine that the killing it would be attended with the most calamitous consequences.
It is from this circumstance that none of these animals have been shot, and, consequently, not examined but at, a distance. They have been generally observed in a sitting posture in the water, none of the lower extremity being discovered until they are disturbed; when, by plunging, the tail appears, and agitates the water to a considerable distance round. They have been always seen employed in smoothing their hair, or stroking their faces and breasts with their hands, or something resembling hands. In this posture, and thus employed, they have been frequently taken for Indian women bathing.”
1809 by Miss Mackay
A letter to the Kentish Gazette
The first letter referenced in the Kentish Gazette was written by Miss Mackay, the daughter of Rev. D. Mackay, Minister of Reay in Scotland. In her letter, she describes walking on the beach with her cousin and saw 3 people on the rocks terrified of what they saw in the water. As she approched, she saw a mermaid like creature in the water. She writes:
“The face seemed plump and round, the eyes and nose were small, the former were of a light grey colour, and the mouth was large, and from the shape of the jawbone, which seemed straight, the face looked short…The forehead, nose, and chin were white, the whole side face of a bright pink colour. The head was exceedingly round and hair thick and long, of a grey oily cast, and appeared troublesome to it, the waves generally throwing it down over the face, it seemed to feel the annoyance, and as the waves retreated, with both its hands frequently threw back the hair and rubbed its throat, as if to remove any soiling it might have received from it.”
1810 Mer-child sightings in Britain
An interesting story pertaining to mer-children is from the British Press in 1810, tells of 2 mer-children found on the Isle of Man. A fisherman thought he heard a dying bird and went toward the noise he noticed one dead mer-child, and the other nearby. They must have been injured by the recent storm. He took the injured mer-child home and nursed it back to health.
This mer-children was under two feet in length and had the torso of a normal child and the tail of a fish. The hair was like seaweed, stringy and green, and the color was a pale brown color. The mer-child ate mussels provided by the man and sometimes drank milk and was eventually let back into the sea.
1811 by John McIsaac and Katherine Loynachan
John and Katherine of Scotland testified under oath that they saw a mermaid-like animal.
We have an account of John saying he saw an animal that had a white upper half with the shape of the human body, while the other half was covered with scales and had a tail, according to a story in the London Mirror. The sighting took place in 1811. He also describes the creature as having long, light brown hair, being between four and five feet long, and having fingers close together. It continued above water for a few minutes, and then disappeared,”
The Minister of Campbeltown, and the Chamberlain of Mull, attest his examination and declare that they know no reason why his veracity should be questioned.
1814 Group Sighting in West Scotland
It was the summer of 1814 and a boy sighted a mermaid off the coast of west Scotland. He went to tell the others but was quickly ridiculed. A month later, several children saw the same mermaid. They went to tell other villagers and returned to find the mermaid closer to shore who proceeded to make a hissing sound for two hours before swimming away.
1830 by Villagers in Benbecula
Within the outer Hebrides of west coast Scotland, there was a small woman spotted on the shore. The villagers tried to capture it and started throwing rocks. A few days later, its corpse washed ashore, according to Hidden Animals, and they examined it. Their account goes “The upper part of the body was about the size of a well-developed child of three or four years of age, with an abnormally developed breast. The hair was long, dark, and glossy, while the skin was white, soft, and tender. The lower part of the body was like a salmon, but without scales.”
The creature was buried in a coffin later on and many people attended.
1857 in The Shipping Gazette
Another story from Scotland is reported by Scottish seaman off the coast of Britain.
They report that they saw a creature in the water and both John Williamson and John Cameron said:
“We distinctly saw an object about six yards distant from us in the shape of a woman, with full breast, dark complexion, comely face, and fine hair hanging in ringlets over the neck and shoulders. It was about the surface of the water to about the middle, gazing at us and shaking its head. The weather being fine, we had a full view of it and that for three or four minutes,”
1886 by Fisherman of Gabarus
This is the first real mermaid sighting in Canada off Cap Brenton ( an island off the coast of Nova Scotia) which was even featured in the local paper called Cape Brooklyn Eagle Newspaper. It says:
“The fishermen of Gabarus, Cape Breton have been excited over the appearances of a mermaid…The face, head, shoulders, and arms resembled those of a human being, but the lower extremities had the appearance of a fish. The back of its head was covered with long, dark hair resembling a horse’s mane. The arms were shaped like a human being’s, except that the fingers of one hand were very long. The color of the skin was not unlike that of a human being.”
August 1886 – Dr. Karl ShukerCape Breton, Canada
This case is also referenced by zoologist Dr. Karl Shuker on his website. The report comes from the Cape Brooklyn Eagle newspaper in August 1886 and reads:
“While Mr. Bagnall, accompanied by several fishermen, was out in a boat, they observed floating on the surface of the water a few yards from the boat what they supposed to be a corpse. Approaching it for the purpose of taking it ashore, they observed it to move, when to their great surprise, it turned around in a sitting position and looked at them and disappeared.
A few moments after[,] it appeared on the surface and again looked toward them, after which it disappeared altogether. The face, head, shoulders and arms resembled those of a human being, but the lower extremities had the appearance of a fish. The back of its head was covered with long, dark hair resembling a horse’s mane. The arms were shaped like a human being’s, except that the fingers of one hand were very long. The color of the skin was not unlike that of a human being. There is no doubt, that the mysterious stranger is what is known as a mermaid, and the first one ever seen in Cape Breton waters.”
1890 The Deerness mermaid sighting
This mermaid sighting is unique as it took place over a few summers around 1890. This “creature” became known as the Deerness mermaid who regularly visited the Newark bay in Deerness. This mermaid made multiple appearances and hundreds of eyewitnesses can swear to the validity of the encounters.
One person wrote:
“It is about six to seven feet in length, has a little black head, with neck, a snow white body and two arms, and in swimming it just appears like a human being. At times it will appear to be siding on a sunken rock, and will wave and work its hands.”
1913 The Hoy sea woman sighting
Close to Deerness, another mermaid encounter was reported in 1913, where multiple sightings of the same mermaid were seen of the south-eastern coast of Hoy. They write:
“Ralph Taylor and crew, when visiting their lobster creels the other day, saw a strange creature, which looked like a mermaid, close by the foot of the Old Man.
“It rose out of the water to the height of three feet and looked like a lady with a shawl round her shoulders, and streaming down her face.
“This is the third occasion it has been seen at close range by them. The oldest people have never seen anything like it before, and wonder what it can be. Some think it must be the Deerness Mermaid on tour.”
1943 by Japanese soldiers
This is probably the more prominent mermaid sighting in the 19th century. On the shores of Kei Islands in Indonesia, several mermaids were spotted by Japanese soldiers. One of these mermaids were spotted on the beach giving the soldiers plenty of time to get detailed descriptions like:
“Roughly 4-foot 9-inches tall, pinkish skin, human looking face and limbs, spikes along its head, and mouth like a carp.”
Later, a Sargent named Taro Horiba heard the news of a dead mermaid onshore and tried to investigate. He urged scientists to study mermaids but failed to convince the scientific community that these sightings were valid.
1947 by a Scottish Fisherman
An old fisherman from Scotland reported that he had seen a mermaid in the water about twenty yards from the shore, sitting combing her hair on a floating herring box used to preserve live lobsters, according to Sir Arthur Waugh in The Folklore of the Merfolk.
“Unfortunately, as soon as she looked round, she realized that she had been seen, and plunged into the sea. A reporter named Mr Maclean says “but no questioning could shake the old fisher- man’s conviction: he was adamant that he had seen a mermaid. So one never knows!”
1967 by multiple tourists in British Columbia, Canada
This sighting is interesting because it happened from a ferry. Tourists saw a woman with the tail of a dolphin and were described as having long blonde beautiful hair, and was eating a salmon. It was even reported in the Times-Colonist newspaper. However, no one has seen the mermaid since.
1998 in Kawai
A diver named Leicher who operates the Jack’s Diving Locker off Kawai said,
“I’d heard about her before, most of us who are out in these waters regularly have heard stories. But I’d never seen her until that morning.”
“We were on our way out to the point when a school of dolphins started following the boat, playing in our wake. Suddenly one of the men on the port side starts yelling and pointing.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw. There, not 10 feet from the bow, was what looked like a nude woman. Then she leapt into the air and my heart almost gave out on me. The entire lower half of her was covered with scales and tapered back into a huge fish tail.”
“She jumped once more, then disappeared under the surface.”
2008 by Daniel Cupido
A recent and convincing sighting happened in a small village in Suurbraak which is in the Western Cape of South Africa. Aldo Pekeur reported, in the paper for New Zealand Herald:
A resident of the village, Daniel Cupido, said he and his friends were next to the river around 11:30 p.m. when they heard something like someone “bashing on a wall.” Cupido went toward the sound, and found a figure “like that of a white woman with long black hair thrashing about in the water”.
Cupido said he tried to help the woman but the woman made “the strangest sound,” which Dina, Cupido’s mother, said was so sorrowful “my heart could take it no more.” The creatures are described as Kaaiman, or half-human and half fish creatures living in deep pools.
Suurbraak tourism officer Maggy Jantjies said she knew the people who saw the Kaaiman well, and that they did not misuse alcohol and vouched for the credibility of the group.
2009 in Shlomo Cohen Israel
This is probably the most famous sighting as there is a $1 Million dollar reward for anyone that can capture real footage of the mermaid!
A man named Shlomo Cohen saw the mermaid near Kiryat Yam and provided the following report:
“I was with friends when suddenly we saw a woman lying on the sand in a weird way. At first, I thought she was just another sunbather, but when we approached she jumped into the water and disappeared. We were all in shock because we saw she had a tail.”
“Many people are telling us they are sure they’ve seen a mermaid and they are all independent of each other,” council spokesman Natti Zilberman told Sky News. “People say it is half girl, half fish, jumping like a dolphin. It does all kinds of tricks then disappears.”
2012 by Zimbabwe Dam Workers
This Mermaid really didn’t want her home to be messed with! In Zimbabwe, a mermaid hounded government workers off of a dam site in several different areas. According to Voice of America, Water Resources Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo sold the Senate Committee that chiefs were going to perform rituals to get rid of the mermaid. Some of the workers went missing and the others refused to install the water pump.
This chiefs name is Edison Chihota of Mashonaland East and told the media outlet that mermaids exist.
“As a custodian of the traditional I have no doubt,” chief Chihota said. “For anyone to dispute this is also disputing him or herself.”
They had to hire white out of country workers to get the job done but they came back and said the same thing and the dam was never finished.
If you have a mermaid sighting or have a favorite from history, please CLICK ON THIS LINK and fill out the form so I can add it to my post!