Admit them look as if they long to live

Admit it or not, we all watched the Disney movie entitled
“The Little Mermaid” at least once in our life. Most commonly when we were growing
up. Some have watched it even more than once. 
If not “The Little Mermaid”, another movie could probably be “Pirates of
the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”. Some of us wanted to be mermaids and sirens,
some wanted to see them. What are these creatures? Why is there no credible or
strong scientific evidence that proves or disproves their existence? Are they the
same thing, or are they not? These two creatures are often mistaken as each
other, or the same thing, and there are justifications why they are. Based on a
text by Granit, it is under the “delivery of experimental evidence for a view
that is probable, yet not established, because such evidence as there is has
not yet excluded alternative possibilities.” This study is under this category
because it has not been proven as a whole yet, and there are many alternate
theories that have yet to be explored. There was and still is no concrete
evidence to prove the existence of these creatures, despite the countless proof
that has been given or offered by the masses.

 

 

What are Mermaids? 

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Mermaids are mythical creatures
that have a human upper body and a fish tail from the waist down. The name came
from the word “mer” meaning sea, and “maiden”, generally meaning a young,
beautiful, marriageable woman. They are said to love combing their hair while
they stare at themselves in a mirror, which is why they are often depicted as
women with long, beautiful hair, holding a mirror and a comb. The earlier
characteristics of mermaids were ugly and monstrous (East England Broadband
Network (E2BN), 2006). To make them fit into his story, Andersen changed the
description of the mermaids. He romanticized their species, making them look as
if they long to live on the land rather than stay underwater. Mermaids are,
most of the time,  associated with death
and misfortune. They lure sailors off course, and hypnotize them. They make
sailors jump off their ships and these sailors end up dying due to drowning.
Mermaids are said to live up to 300 years, but even then, they are said to have
no souls. 

What are Sirens? 

Sirens are similar to mermaids, though they are lesser
known and often confused with them. The earliest anecdotes of sirens were in Greek
mythology as well. They are known as beautiful yet dangerous creatures like the
mermaids. They lure sailors with their voices and songs to their doom, which
results in shipwrecks and also deaths by drowning. They were known as daughters
of the river god Achelous. They usually accompany Persephone, the daughter of
the goddess of harvest, Demeter. To protect Persephone, Demeter gave the sirens
wings. The sirens failed when Hades, the god of the Underworld, abducted
Persephone to be his wife and queen. After this, they were cursed by Demeter to
have deadly voices. It is said that the reason their songs have a gorgeous, yet
sad melody, is because they long for Persephone’s return. According to “The
Odyssey” by Homer, they sang of promises of the future (Karas & Megas,
1999-2017). Their voices can drive the listener crazy. Their appearances from
the waist down are not very clear. Rumor has it that they have fish tails just
like mermaids, but some say they have legs, just like humans. Sirens aren’t
nearly as popular as mermaids, but they are just as deadly. 

Similarities and Differences of Mermaids and
Sirens 

Mermaids and sirens are often
confused with each other due to lack of knowledge of the people mentioning them,
mostly about sirens. Since their descriptions are so similar, many assume them
to be the same thing. Mermaids have fish tails. Sirens are most certainly
considered to have legs for the lower part of their bodies. Sirens have a worse
backstory than mermaids because of the whole story with Demeter and Persephone.
Although, they are equally as deadly and dangerous. They both lure sailors to
their demise. Both are depicted as beautiful women from the waist up, to
entice, seduce, or intrigue those who see them. And if you ever encounter one,
be careful and wary. 

Fictional,
Literary, and Media Involving Mermaids and Sirens 

There are tons of literary works involving the two creatures
but I will only discuss two: The Siren by Kiera Cass and The Little Mermaid, by
both Walt Disney Studios and the book of Hans Christian Andersen.

The first book I want to tackle is “The Siren” by
Kiera Cass. It is the most recent book I’ve read regarding this topic. It was
originally published in July 2009 under HarperCollins Publishers. The genres of
the book are fantasy and fiction. In this book, sirens are created when they
are at risk of death and beg the ocean to spare them from dying in a ship
wreck. The Ocean is considered in the book to be a living being. If the Ocean
gives mercy, the woman is sentenced to a hundred years of being a Siren (Kranz,
2016). The sirens depicted in the book resemble the description mentioned
earlier, where they have legs for bodies and they sing to wreck a ship and lure
people to their deaths.

For the second and the last one, we will be talking
about “The Little Mermaid”, both the movie and the actual story. The movie of
“The Little Mermaid” was created by Walt Disney Studios and was released in
1989. It followed the story of Ariel, a mermaid who has fallen in love with
human life. She didn’t go too far though, not until she fell in love with Eric,
a prince in the human world. She longed to be a human to be with Eric, and so
she made a deal with Ursula, the sea witch. In exchange for legs, she will give
up her voice. She had to make the prince fall in love with her so she could get
her voice back, and he did. There were complications along the way but they
still lived happily ever after. In the Andersen version, she got her tongue cut
out, the prince burns her when he chose another woman even though he proclaimed
his love for her, and dissolved into sea foam after doing a ritual which
involved stabbing the prince through the heart and bathing in his blood (Simon,
2014). Despite these misleading works, most mermaids would rather not care about
the life of humans. Mermaids are only fascinated with them if they have a
chance to kill them. Andersen’s version, however, showcases a trait not seen in
the movie, and that is mermaids have no souls. These two works show a more
romantic and highly fictional depiction of mermaids. Mermaids are fierce and
feisty creatures, not soft creatures who’d fall in love with humans or want to
be one.

Evidences of Their
Existence 

Despite all
the literary works and media about Mermaids and Sirens, the scientific and
concrete evidences surrounding them are not enough to prove their existence
strongly and fully.

During medieval times, mermaids were a common belief
to the people. In recent researches, however, they say that the sailors may
have mistaken some sea creatures like the digongs, manatees, etc. for mermaids
or sirens, but if you look at pictures of them, they don’t exactly look like
the beautiful and gorgeous mermaids. You have to understand that sailors and
people might’ve been too far away to actually comprehend and see the details of
the creature they saw. It came up to the extent that even if they just saw what
looked like an arm or a leg diving underneath the water, they mistake it for a
mermaid or a siren. Tavern stories in the past that were shared by sailors were
probably just made up stories for them to gain fame or attention, or maybe just
to relate to the mainstream discussions back then. 

Many stories of these creatures may have been a
staple in some cultures because it aligned with their beliefs or maybe they
wanted to believe in something that is unique from other cultures. That if it
maybe turned out to be true, they could claim it as their own, fighting to
claim it as their own right.

Recent sightings began in 2009, where spectators
spotted a mermaid off the coast of Israel. One of the first people to see the
mermaid thought it was just a sunbather. When they got close, they saw that the
creature had a tail. Startled, it jumped back in the water. This event sparked
a hunt for the mermaid, and Israel’s tourism board jumped on the publicity and
declared that a reward of a million dollars will be given to the person who is
able take a picture of the creature. 

Another event that, once again, sparked interest in
the sea creatures was a “documentary” on Animal Planet entitled “Mermaids: The
Body Found”. The reason why the word documentary is enclosed in quotation marks
is because it is just fictional, but presented in a way that made it look like
it was an actual, non-fictional, and factual documentary. After the program
aired, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration quickly issued a
statement that denied the existence of mermaids, which, admittedly, crushed the
hopes of everyone that believed in them. They stated that no evidence of
aquatic humanoids have even been found (National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), 2017).

Despite the announcement made, a temple Fukuoka, Japan
claimed that they held the remains of a mermaid that washed ashore in the 13th
century. The priest there believed that it came from the palace of a dragon god
beneath the ocean. It has been displayed there for almost 8 centuries, but only
a few of the bones remain. It hasn’t been tested scientifically, so the origin
and where it came from has been unknown all this time (Radford, 2017).

The Bottom
Line 

Despite the official statement released stating that
mermaids do not exist, and that Sirens may have never even existed at all, many
still firmly believe in them because these are things they grew up with, or it
could be embedded in their minds, their childhoods, or their cultures. These
are cultural beliefs that many have held onto since they were children and are
not letting go anytime soon. According to the NOAA, only 5% of the ocean has
been explored by man (NOAA, 2017), meaning that there could be a slight chance
that in the remaining 95%, there are mermaids lurking around, sinking ships for
fun or brushing their long hair atop a rock overlooking the ocean horizon. We
may never know, but it’s never too late to find out. And in that remaining 95%,
who knows what could be down there?  Many
mythical creatures are being talked about nowadays, like the giant shark called
Megalodon, or the Kraken, so what stops all of us from believing the existence
of mermaids and sirens? Even if their existence means many would exploit and
capture their species and sell it, or many would try to make them extinct,
wouldn’t it be a wonder to know that, somewhere out there, there are magical
creatures proving science and non-believers wrong? It’s something to think
about, isn’t it?