In 2009, the local administration of Kiryat Yam, a small town in Israel, declared a prize money of $1 million to anyone who could prove the existence of mermaids off the Israel coast. Quite a few residents of the small town were more than convinced of their existence, with some even stating that they had a seen a mermaid jump out of the water, like a dolphin, and perform acrobatics in midair. This is just one of the many instances which has raised an intricate question, do mermaids actually exist?
What are Mermaids?
Mermaids are mythical creatures cited in various literary works and folklore, typically described as living beings with the upper torso of a woman and lower torso of a fish. These creatures have been allegedly sighted by many sailors and fishermen in different parts of the world. Like unicorns and centaurs, even mermaids have become an integral part of mythology and folklore in many cultures across the world. Determining whether they are real may seem a tedious task if we blindly go along with the masses. However, a bit of investigation is enough to reveal that they are mythical creatures.
Myths and Legends
The first reported sighting of a mermaid can be traced back to Assyria in around 1000 BC. Some accounts describe mermaids as good-willed creatures who granted wishes to sailors, while some describe them as evil creatures or signs of bad omen. Seafarers believed that the sighting of a mermaid was a sign of approaching storm.
According to a popular myth associated with them, their voice is believed to be so enticing that the sailors who heard them often got enchanted and either smashed their ships onto the rocks, or grounded them. It's the aura around these myths and legends that makes many people seek an explanation to the numerous reports of mermaid sightings.
Mermaids: Real or Myth
People who believe that mermaids are real, including those working in the field of cryptozoology, put forth examples of various mermaid sightings all over the world. However, none of these are reliable, as they are not backed by any sort of evidence. The last few years have also witnessed the desperation of people trying to prove that mermaids exist by manufacturing fake carcasses and implying that they were real carcasses that were washed ashore. It is not at all difficult to fabricate a carcass of mermaid. You just need a carcass of a monkey and fish. Such carcasses and pictures have become popular exhibits in museums the world over, thus making many people believe that mermaids are real.
The description of mermaids as half-human and half-fish is too vague to be true, if one considers that the two species are not at all similar by any means. It is believed that the sailors who saw mermaids with their own eyes may have actually seen manatees or sea cows. Though these creatures doesn't resemble a human being by any angle, there are significant chances that the home-sick sailors, with the thoughts of their woman in their mind, must have mistaken them for mermaids.
This reasoning runs parallel to that of a mirage, wherein a tired and thirsty individual wandering in the desert in search of water experiences an optical illusion. Just like the thirsty wanderer in the desert, spending months together on the ship is bound to make sailors wary of the sea. In such circumstances, the image of a beautiful mermaid sitting on a rock, in the middle of the vast ocean, can be best described as nothing, but a hallucinatory experience.
It is not easy to make someone change his belief, even if it is a false one; the case of mermaids is no exception. Over the last few centuries, exaggerations and false beliefs have made the mermaid myth quite popular. When the local administration of Kiryat Yam announced the reward, several people from all over the world flocked to the region in a desperate attempt to get a glimpse of this mythical creature, demonstrating an excellent example of the term 'gullibility'. While mermaids have been described as beautiful creatures in almost all the cultures, the carcasses that make it to the shores seldom do any justice to this description.