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 growingup. Some have watched it even more than once. If not “The Little Mermaid”, another movie could probably be “Pirates ofthe 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 orstrong scientific evidence that proves or disproves their existence? Are they thesame thing, or are they not? These two creatures are often mistaken as eachother, or the same thing, and there are justifications why they are. Based on atext by Granit, it is under the “delivery of experimental evidence for a viewthat is probable, yet not established, because such evidence as there is hasnot yet excluded alternative possibilities.” This study is under this categorybecause it has not been proven as a whole yet, and there are many alternatetheories that have yet to be explored.
There was and still is no concreteevidence to prove the existence of these creatures, despite the countless proofthat has been given or offered by the masses. What are Mermaids? Mermaids are mythical creaturesthat have a human upper body and a fish tail from the waist down. The name camefrom the word “mer” meaning sea, and “maiden”, generally meaning a young,beautiful, marriageable woman. They are said to love combing their hair whilethey stare at themselves in a mirror, which is why they are often depicted aswomen with long, beautiful hair, holding a mirror and a comb.
The earliercharacteristics of mermaids were ugly and monstrous (East England BroadbandNetwork (E2BN), 2006). To make them fit into his story, Andersen changed thedescription of the mermaids. He romanticized their species, making them look asif they long to live on the land rather than stay underwater. Mermaids are,most of the time, associated with deathand misfortune. They lure sailors off course, and hypnotize them. They makesailors 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 haveno souls.
What are Sirens? Sirens are similar to mermaids, though they are lesserknown and often confused with them. The earliest anecdotes of sirens were in Greekmythology as well. They are known as beautiful yet dangerous creatures like themermaids. They lure sailors with their voices and songs to their doom, whichresults in shipwrecks and also deaths by drowning. They were known as daughtersof the river god Achelous. They usually accompany Persephone, the daughter ofthe goddess of harvest, Demeter. To protect Persephone, Demeter gave the sirenswings. The sirens failed when Hades, the god of the Underworld, abductedPersephone to be his wife and queen.
After this, they were cursed by Demeter tohave deadly voices. It is said that the reason their songs have a gorgeous, yetsad melody, is because they long for Persephone’s return. According to “TheOdyssey” by Homer, they sang of promises of the future (Karas & Megas,1999-2017).
Their voices can drive the listener crazy. Their appearances fromthe waist down are not very clear. Rumor has it that they have fish tails justlike mermaids, but some say they have legs, just like humans. Sirens aren’tnearly as popular as mermaids, but they are just as deadly.
Similarities and Differences of Mermaids andSirens Mermaids and sirens are oftenconfused with each other due to lack of knowledge of the people mentioning them,mostly about sirens. Since their descriptions are so similar, many assume themto be the same thing. Mermaids have fish tails. Sirens are most certainlyconsidered to have legs for the lower part of their bodies. Sirens have a worsebackstory than mermaids because of the whole story with Demeter and Persephone.Although, they are equally as deadly and dangerous. They both lure sailors totheir demise.
Both are depicted as beautiful women from the waist up, toentice, 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 creaturesbut I will only discuss two: The Siren by Kiera Cass and The Little Mermaid, byboth Walt Disney Studios and the book of Hans Christian Andersen.
The first book I want to tackle is “The Siren” byKiera Cass. It is the most recent book I’ve read regarding this topic. It wasoriginally published in July 2009 under HarperCollins Publishers. The genres ofthe book are fantasy and fiction. In this book, sirens are created when theyare at risk of death and beg the ocean to spare them from dying in a shipwreck.
The Ocean is considered in the book to be a living being. If the Oceangives mercy, the woman is sentenced to a hundred years of being a Siren (Kranz,2016). The sirens depicted in the book resemble the description mentionedearlier, where they have legs for bodies and they sing to wreck a ship and lurepeople to their deaths. For the second and the last one, we will be talkingabout “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 in1989. It followed the story of Ariel, a mermaid who has fallen in love withhuman 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 soshe made a deal with Ursula, the sea witch.
In exchange for legs, she will giveup her voice. She had to make the prince fall in love with her so she could gether voice back, and he did. There were complications along the way but theystill lived happily ever after. In the Andersen version, she got her tongue cutout, the prince burns her when he chose another woman even though he proclaimedhis love for her, and dissolved into sea foam after doing a ritual whichinvolved stabbing the prince through the heart and bathing in his blood (Simon,2014).
Despite these misleading works, most mermaids would rather not care aboutthe life of humans. Mermaids are only fascinated with them if they have achance to kill them. Andersen’s version, however, showcases a trait not seen inthe movie, and that is mermaids have no souls.
These two works show a moreromantic and highly fictional depiction of mermaids. Mermaids are fierce andfeisty creatures, not soft creatures who’d fall in love with humans or want tobe one.Evidences of TheirExistence Despite allthe literary works and media about Mermaids and Sirens, the scientific andconcrete evidences surrounding them are not enough to prove their existencestrongly and fully. During medieval times, mermaids were a common beliefto the people. In recent researches, however, they say that the sailors mayhave mistaken some sea creatures like the digongs, manatees, etc. for mermaidsor sirens, but if you look at pictures of them, they don’t exactly look likethe beautiful and gorgeous mermaids. You have to understand that sailors andpeople might’ve been too far away to actually comprehend and see the details ofthe creature they saw.
It came up to the extent that even if they just saw whatlooked like an arm or a leg diving underneath the water, they mistake it for amermaid or a siren. Tavern stories in the past that were shared by sailors wereprobably just made up stories for them to gain fame or attention, or maybe justto relate to the mainstream discussions back then. Many stories of these creatures may have been astaple in some cultures because it aligned with their beliefs or maybe theywanted to believe in something that is unique from other cultures.
That if itmaybe turned out to be true, they could claim it as their own, fighting toclaim it as their own right.Recent sightings began in 2009, where spectatorsspotted a mermaid off the coast of Israel. One of the first people to see themermaid thought it was just a sunbather.
When they got close, they saw that thecreature had a tail. Startled, it jumped back in the water. This event sparkeda hunt for the mermaid, and Israel’s tourism board jumped on the publicity anddeclared that a reward of a million dollars will be given to the person who isable take a picture of the creature. Another event that, once again, sparked interest inthe sea creatures was a “documentary” on Animal Planet entitled “Mermaids: TheBody Found”. The reason why the word documentary is enclosed in quotation marksis because it is just fictional, but presented in a way that made it look likeit was an actual, non-fictional, and factual documentary. After the programaired, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration quickly issued astatement that denied the existence of mermaids, which, admittedly, crushed thehopes of everyone that believed in them.
They stated that no evidence ofaquatic humanoids have even been found (National Oceanic and AtmosphericAdministration (NOAA), 2017). Despite the announcement made, a temple Fukuoka, Japanclaimed that they held the remains of a mermaid that washed ashore in the 13thcentury. The priest there believed that it came from the palace of a dragon godbeneath the ocean. It has been displayed there for almost 8 centuries, but onlya few of the bones remain.
It hasn’t been tested scientifically, so the originand where it came from has been unknown all this time (Radford, 2017). The BottomLine Despite the official statement released stating thatmermaids do not exist, and that Sirens may have never even existed at all, manystill firmly believe in them because these are things they grew up with, or itcould be embedded in their minds, their childhoods, or their cultures. Theseare cultural beliefs that many have held onto since they were children and arenot letting go anytime soon. According to the NOAA, only 5% of the ocean hasbeen explored by man (NOAA, 2017), meaning that there could be a slight chancethat in the remaining 95%, there are mermaids lurking around, sinking ships forfun or brushing their long hair atop a rock overlooking the ocean horizon. Wemay never know, but it’s never too late to find out. And in that remaining 95%,who knows what could be down there? Manymythical creatures are being talked about nowadays, like the giant shark calledMegalodon, or the Kraken, so what stops all of us from believing the existenceof mermaids and sirens? Even if their existence means many would exploit andcapture 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 magicalcreatures proving science and non-believers wrong? It’s something to thinkabout, isn’t it?