This just in: Mermaids are NOT real, U.S. agency says

Thu Jul 5, 2012 3:34pm EDT
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By Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - This may not be much of a surprise, but mermaids aren't real. No less an authority than the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has debunked the existence of the legendary half-woman, half-fish creatures.

NOAA's National Ocean Service came out against the reality of mermaids after a documentary-style science fiction program on the Discovery Channel's Animal Planet suggested in May that the body of a mermaid had been found on a beach.

Of course, it wasn't. But the program prompted public inquiries to NOAA, which more commonly deals with questions about weather, water and solar storms.

"No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found," the agency wrote on its "Ocean Facts" page here

Humans have been wondering about mermaids since the Stone Age, as shown in cave paintings of magical female figures made 30,000 years ago, NOAA said.

"But are mermaids real? No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That's a question best left to historians, philosophers and anthropologists."

Ben Sherman, a spokesman for the Ocean Service, said the item on mermaids was posted June 27 in response to queries about Discovery's fictional "documentary." There was also interest on a couple of NOAA's Facebook pages, he said in an email to Reuters on Thursday.

"This Ocean Fact received little attention until the Discovery News Channel reposted it with commentary on June 29," Sherman wrote.   Continued...

Tourists look at the sculpture of the Little Mermaid, inspired from a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, a famous landmark of Copenhagen January 26, 2011. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti