The Little Mermaid: Are mermaids real?


“A mermaid has not an immortal soul, nor can she obtain one unless she wins the love of a human being”

Fairyology Episode 8

Image result for the little mermaid

Hello and welcome to another fairyology episode, this time I pose the question is it better down where its wetter? Todays fairy tale is of course the little mermaid. Now for a quick run down of the story. So the disneys version is a little bit different from the original fairytale but today we’re going to look at the original version.

Theres a mermaid that lives with her widowed father in an underwater kingdom. When she turns 15 she can swim to the surface. She then becomes obsessed with the world on land and falls in love with a Prince she rescues. She asks her grandmother about the humans and she then tells the young mermaid (Ariel) and she tells her that humans live for a shorter time than the mermaids 300 years but when they die their soul lives forever. Where as when a mermaid dies they turn into sea foam and disappear (have a think about that when you’re next paddling in sea foam!). Ariel decides she wants to live on the land so visits a sea witch. The sea witch gives her a potion that will cause her to become human but she will never be able to return to the mermaid world and the only way she will obtain a soul is if the prince marries her.

Ariel then takes the potion and becomes human. She becomes good friends with the prince but he doesnt recognise her as the mermaid who recognises him. He instead marries a princess who he sees as the one who rescued him. Ariel is now heartbroken. Her sister comes to the rescue with a knife for her to kill the prince. Ariel goes to do the awful deed but cannot bring herself to kill him. She chucks the knife into the water and her body turns to foam. BUT! She instead turns into an earth spirit??? and uses her 300 years doing good deeds. Yes well I now understand why disney simplified this tale!

So the science in this one has to be could mermaids be real?! There are a few theories on this one so lets get to it!

Theory 1. Manatees

The main theory behind mermaid sightings is that they were actually manatees. Now manatees hardly look like Ariel but often these sightings came from seamen. In the past often boats would carry limited supplies meaning these sailors were often highly dehydrated and suffered with scurvy. All this together meant they often started to see things and the manatees appeared to them as attractive women. So next time you see a mermaid just have a check that it isn’t a manatee and maybe have an apple with some water!

Theory 2. Hoaxes

Mermaids that have been “found” in the past were often pretty horrific. They were very popular in freak shows of the victorian era and were “obviously” hoaxes. If you’re brave enough feel free to go and have a look at the photos online but often these were a combination of monkeys with fish. Yeah, its gross…. moving on!

Theory 3. “Of course they’re real they just haven’t been found yet.”

Mermaids are so fantastical and genetically having half human half fish is just not going to happen. However my mermaid lovers out there should always remain hopeful! The ocean is such a mystery to scientists even now so I’m just waiting for the documentary where Ariel makes her first appearance!

Hope you have enjoyed this silly foray into fairyology! See you all next time!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!





Conservation Celebrations


Hello! So last month we all got to celebrate Giant Pandas being no longer officially endangered. Finally they moved up the IUCN list to being stated as vulnerable. It’s a huge win for team conservation! That got me to thinking that I should really share some of my favourite wins for team conservation! Often it’s too easy to focus on the battles that we’re losing rather than the ones we’re winning, so without further a do here are three of my favourite wins.

West Indian Manatees

I have a secret, I love manatees. I think they’re one of the best animals on the planet. I was lucky enough to see some on a trip to Florida. I love that they were often mistaken for mermaids. They were listed as endangered in 1967. The main issues for manatees involved collisions with speed boats. It’s understandable as they blend in so well but action was taken. downloadSpeed limits were placed in areas where manatees were found as well as special areas where no water sports were allowed. Now they are classed as threatened with a population of 6,300 in Florida alone and a worldwide population of 13,000. With more protection given to these wonderful creatures there is hope for the population to increase further.

Bald Eagle

Ever heard of DDT? Well it was a pesticide that worked its way up the food chain. In New Jersey DDT almost wiped out its population of these amazing beautiful birds. It left one breeding pair of bald eagles in the 70s and 80s. Luckily for us and lots of animals, DDT use was banned. There was also a huge effort to make perfect homes for the eagles and these efforts proved successful. In 2000 there were 23 breeding pairs and in the 2015 review 161 pairs were found! Amazing work!

Reforestation of China

China in 1998 suffered from a huge amount of flooding so in 2002 they set out reforest 5% of the nation, an area the size of California. So far some 1.6 percent of China exceeded a net gain in forest cover, with a large chunk of the gains covering some 61,000 square miles in central China. Forest fires and other problems destroyed over 14,000 square miles of forest, meaning the total net gain for China was about 46,000 square miles. A growing forest is not only fantastic for animals as a habitat but it’s also important for stopping soil erosion.

I cannot wait to be able to tell you all about even further successes that conservation has had. I strongly believe that conservation should be of the up most importance to keep this world alive.

ThatBiologist Everywhere!