Mermaid from the deep

Ancient Mermaids

As the early human civilization formed around the rivers and seas, their religion often had a great focus on the dangers and wonders that were hid in them. Because of that some of the earliest known gods were depicted as some combination of men and fish, with 7000 year old Babylonian god Ea (bringer of knowledge, arts and sciences, later known as Oannes by the Greeks) being first one. As the time went on female sea gods appeared, and the first one that had the greatest resemblance to the mermaid was Assyriangoddess Astargatis, who decided to hide herself from the mortals after she accidentally killed one of them. After diving below water to become fish, sea refused to hide her beauty and decided to not transform upper half of her body. Greeks adopted some parts of her origin, morphing her into Aphrodite. The clearest example of merfolk in Greek mythology was the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite called Triton, who is most often shown as mermen who blow the conch shell while riding the sea waves.

With most of our blue planet covered by water, it’s little wonder that, centuries ago, the oceans were believed to hide mysterious creatures including sea serpents and mermaids. Merfolk (mermaids and mermen) are, of course, the marine version of half-human, half-animal legends that have captured human imagination for ages. One source, the “Arabian Nights,” described mermaids as having “moon faces and hair like a woman’s but their hands and feet were in their bellies and they had tails like fishes.”  there are of course mermen too, and they have an equally fierce reputation for summoning storms, sinking ships and drowning sailors.

in Edward Snow’s “Incredible Mysteries and Legends of the Sea.” A sea captain off the coast of Newfoundland described his 1614 encounter: “Captain John Smith [of Jamestown fame] saw a mermaid ‘swimming about with all possible grace.’ He pictured her as having large eyes, a finely shaped nose that was ‘somewhat short, and well-formed ears’ that were rather too long. Smith goes on to say that ‘her long green hair imparted to her an original character that was by no means unattractive.'” In fact Smith was so taken with this lovely woman that he began “to experience the first effects of love” as he gazed at her before his sudden (and surely profoundly disappointing) realization that she was a fish from the waist down.

A temple in Fukuoka, Japan, is said to house the remains of a mermaid that washed ashore in 1222. Its bones were preserved at the behest of a priest who believed the creature had come from the legendary palace of a dragon god at the bottom of the ocean. For nearly 800 years the bones have been displayed, and water used to soak the bones was said to prevent diseases. Only a few of the bones remain, and since they have not been scientifically tested, their true nature remains unknown. 

Many however accepted mermaids as the good willed creatures that are extremely shy but also very curious about life above the sea. Chinese legends speak that tears of elusive sirens form the most beautiful pearls on Earth, Chinese sailors thought that sirens can grant immortality to the worthy man, and Irish held belief that mermaids are calling the sailors to the sea with their songs as the sign of love. Persian viewed mermaids not as half fish, but also as complete human beings that were able to live in the sea. In the many stories that were written about them (even in the famous collection of folk tales One Thousand and One Nights) there are depicted as beautiful men and women who can have children with ordinary people, and their children can also live in the sea if they want so.

1493, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, sailing near the Dominican Republic, sees three “mermaids”–in reality manatees–and describes them as “not half as beautiful as they are painted.” Six months earlier, Columbus (1451-1506) set off from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean with the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, hoping to find a western trade route to Asia. Instead, his voyage, the first of four he would make, led him to the Americas, or “New World.” Mermaids, mythical half-female, half-fish creatures, have existed in seafaring cultures at least since the time of the ancient Greeks. 

Greek mythology regales stories of the merman god Triton and some modern religions, like Hinduism, worship mermaid-like deities to this day.

THE NINGEN, A JAPANESE MERMAID

The Ningen, which translates literally to ‘human,’ is a 20-30 meter-long, bulbous creature that was originally spotted by a Japanese research vessel, off the coast of Antarctica.

The creature is described as having a pale white, human-like figure with a torso, appendages, and fingers like ours, but with a mermaid-esque tail. It is also described as having minimal facial features with a small slitted mouth and two vacuous eyes.

The Ningen sea creature has been spotted primarily at night and in colder waters, leading some to believe that it has been hiding in the Arctic, beneath the ice. Some say that it may be a previously undiscovered species of albino ray,

It’s unclear whether there are any cryptozoologists currently pursuing the Ningen, as its location would require a well-funded expedition with crew members knowledgeable of arctic territory. And though the Ningen cryptid might seem like another contrived  hoax, told amongst sailors with too much free time, one mustn’t forget the maritime tale of the Kraken, that turned out to be based on a real creature: the giant squid.

All perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.”– Nikola Tesla, Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907

The Babylonians worshipped a fish-tailed god named Oannes. John Ashton, author of Curious Creatures in Zoology, proposes that this is the first depiction of a merman. Also in ancient lore, the goddess Atargatis, chief goddess of northern Syria, was depicted as a fish-bodied human, supposedly constituting the first known representation of a mermaid.

Did you know that to this date we have explored less than five percent of the world’s oceans?

Apparently, below is footage taken by Marine Biologist Dr. Torsten Schmidt and former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Biologist Dr. Paul Robertson confirmed that it was similar to a body that was found by himself and a team of scientists prior to this footage. This isn’t the only footage, apparently more footage was captured by the British coast guard which reveals a very similar looking aquatic humanoid type being, the faces are almost identical.

One interesting note to mention is Dr. Paul Robertson’s twitter account. Which replies to questions of real and fake with responses such as “this is real.” Another comment that stood out to me was “Thanks to Animal Planet for making our story public. Don’t trust everything the government is telling you, hashtag “believeinmermaids.”

The NOAA has responded stating that no evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found saying that:

“The belief in mermaids may have arisen at the very dawn of our species. Magical female figures first appear in cave paintings in the late Palaeolithic (Stone Age) period some 30,000 years ago, when modern humans gained dominion over the land and, presumably, began to sail the seas. Half-human creatures, called chimeras, also about in mythology-in addition to mermaids, there were wise centaurs, wild satyrs, and frightful minotaurs, to name but a few. But are mermaids real? No evidence of acquatic humanoids has ever been found.”

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