The mermaid is a mythical creature. It has an upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish. The legend of the mermaid can be found in many cultures in Europe, Asia and Asia. Today, there are even sightings of mermaids around the world.
Photo: the Fiji Mermaid (CCA: Brian Omura).
One of the earliest recorded sightings of mermaids was made by Christopher Columbus. He reported seeing three female forms – however they were not beautiful as the legend. It is quite likely that what he actually saw were manatees – large marine mammals. Blackbeard the pirate also reported seeing mermaids in the early 1700’s.
In recent years, sightings of mermaids have been reported in Canada, Israel and Zimbabwe.
The Fiji Mermaid Hoax
In the 1840’s P.T. Barnum put a Fiji mermaid on display in his museum. The mermaid appears to have a human torso combined with the body of a fish. The mermaid got its name from the islands of Fiji where it was supposedly found.
The Fiji mermaid was actually purchased by an American sea captain. He purchased it from Japanese sailors. Japanese fisherman were known to construct ‘mermaids’ by sewing together the upper body of an ape to the tail of a fish. Eventually, the Fiji mermaid was sold and ended up in the hands of P.T. Barnum. Barnum was a showman and business man known for his circus and museums. The Fiji mermaid was put on display as a real mermaid.
Improving Your Reading and Thinking Skills
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Mermaids and Mermen, Live Science.