Did Mermaids Ever Really Exist and Where Do Mermaids Come From?

The beautiful creatures with human bodies down to the waist and scaly, fish-like tails from the waist down exist ONLY in folklore and in fairy tales of many lands.

mermaids in the ocean

In ancient Greek mythology, mermaids were beautiful sirens who lured sailors to their deaths.

In German fairy tales, these maidens were said to have lived in a castle at the bottom of the Rhine River.

Other ancient legends say that mermaids were once mortal maidens who were captured and lured into the ocean by mermen. How, then, did these legends start?

Probably from tales told by sailors and ocean travelers who had caught glimpses of real sea creatures called manatees, or sea cows.

These mammals live in the ocean, but must come up to the surface to breathe in air. Like all other mammals, the manatee feeds her baby milk and cradles it in her flippers while nursing.

Because of this and because of the manatee’s somewhat human facial appearance, when it pops up out of the water to feed on sea grass with its flippers held out before it, it almost appears to be standing.

So from a distance, or in a fog, or for a sailor with poor eyesight, the “mermaid” legend might very well have begun.

A full-grown manatee eats from 60 to 100 pounds of food a day to keep its 9- to 10-foot body weighing about 1,500 pounds.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

65 thoughts on “Did Mermaids Ever Really Exist and Where Do Mermaids Come From?”

  1. if mermaids were not real, who came up with the name? and why did they decide to make up something that is not real? i would think that mermaids exist and they probably do.

  2. Since the world was once 90% covered in water, according to geologists and historians, we had to evolve from living in the sea to land creatures. This is not uncommon for other species as well. One thing is certain: everything changes and evolves over time. So, I would think that our species evolved from mermaids and not from monkeys.

  3. Why the heck do people beleive in mermaids???? its folklore people! they dont exist! its not possible! its not posible for half human half fish things live underwater! jeeze people! get out of ur fairytale life, because this is the real world where medrmaids dont exist!

  4. My mum always says they dont but i think they do u know why, because in every story there is a girl and she says they dont exist but they do! i don’t know if they do but i think so.So they should but know one knows the truth

  5. Now the question here is that, how can human beings discover all these sea creatures and miss these so called mermaids.

  6. visit sourthen africa or in south africa then u will learn a lot about them. Not ur mermaid in the movies no! and You can even capture them with your cameras. Photos goes blank. Properbly they hates shirny things like zincs or any shirny metals. If it gets angry all the sky in that place changes to a dark clouds,windy and heavy rains. Then the trees wil be uprooted and building collapse. Careful

  7. I think mermaids are real, or where real…. I have a theory…. that mermaids died off because sharks ate them all… :) I am smart, huh? You people did not think of that! <33 I love Mermaids.. so I thought..huh, they have to be real…. they live in the ocean…SHARKS! Good god, they ate the mermaids! :o Poor mermaids.):

  8. hey to me i will say mermaid really exists….coz the bible make us to understand that there are all agent who are in charge of water….why people failed to believed is this… that they are too weak to carry out reseach…. so its exist

  9. Well its a proven fact that they found a mermaid purse in the ocean but no proof of a actual mermaid. We dont know the truth yet do we?

  10. In the real myths mermaids are horrible ccreatures that lure men to their doom abduction they often turn hideous upon getting close to these beings. Why would you want to see one?

  11. I think mermaids did exist in the past because it would be extremely weird to just think of some half-fish-half-human creature. People had to have seen them in the past. It just seems very strange that we’ve scoured the whole ocean and we’ve never found much suggesting the existence of mermaids.

  12. Hey guys :) I really want to believe they are real :) they are truly amazing and interesting I would love to see one in reality. Just remember no one knows the depths of the ocean… So there is a chance that 1000s of leagues under the sea there is such a place where these mermaids and merman live… There has got to be some truth among all the myth

  13. UGH!!! it gets me so mad when they say there mantees or sea cows. OKAY! i was just watching FACT OR FACKED and they got a video of a mermaid by the internet (?) and they tested it out to see if it was a sew cow and the sea cow doesnt ( barely) move its tail like it did in the shoot. Its too Stiff . and the Mermaid had a curvy tail when she swan. + i love to study mermaids. and if its FAKE so what?! There still alive in minds. but its w.e i just hate it when people give a story about it and they say its fake. no one gives a fudge.

  14. I think mermaids are animals who exist,because one of my friend told me that she went near a river in Jamaica an she was looking in the water and she saw something like a mermaid pass by ,so I’m so confused ,do they exist yes or no?:>.

  15. @Ricardo I lived in South Africa my whole life I’ve never c mermaid these I just spiritual being used by the devil .God can not create a human being like that.2 those who believe that mermaid do exist ,do we have black mermaid or is just white girl if so why whites

  16. Mermaids do exist its like the same thing they said about dinosaurs and dragons and remember there are millions creatures in the ocean yet to be discovered evan ones that’s have changed over the years that they have been alive. Mermaids might be legend to some but when your parents are marine addicts you get to see creatures like never before.

  17. im not sure but sierens, same question. if you do belive tho, read Disney Pirates Of The Caribbean, Jack Sparrow, The Sieren Song by rob kidd. or, for mermaid fans, not quite a mermaid by Linda Chapman. lollipop. email me at [email protected] XD

  18. I think mermaid r true,coz there was I real video we’re a tsunami took place n washed out everything,along a mermaid was washed out to land,bt she died bfor reaching the ocean,n the position she was in lOoks as if she was dragging her self to water n died,but 1 thing I can say for sure is that they r very dangerous creatures,I was told that they r harmfull becouse we.as humans can b able to touch the bible,quraan,tora n so on n they can not,they believe that they r cursed n we blessed,scary

  19. a manatee (sea cow) resembles a human.when it feeds it stands vertically out of e water which makes it look lyk e so called mermaid.there aint no mermaids.

  20. i dunno. We’ve only explored 5% of our deep oceans and the other 95% is too deep that could compress a submarine into a tin can… such a pressure. Who knows what could be living down there in the dark? Because the deep sea creatures are actually meatier instead of bonier. Maybe they live down there in the dark.

  21. I’m gonna be honest. This is my opinion. I don’t know if Mermaids are real or not. But all over the world there are myths and legends about them, and well it’s just hard to ignore that so many civilizations all around the world come up with the same general concept. Remember what they say Where there is smoke there is fire. Although I do respect all you who say they aren’t real because well let’s face it they are pretty mythical. However we seem to forget quite a large factor here, which is the fact that human beings only know one quarter of what is estimated to be 1 billion species in the oceans.And we only know 15% of the Oceans depths, which is truly a horrific thought. It does leave you thinking and asking yourselves Could it be possible? Lets not forget that our planet is 75% water so if we rule on land whats to say there isn’t something that thrives in the water. Anyways for all those people who say that want to see one, let me just say this, if mermaids do exist, don’t expect to see a beautiful Little Mermaid much like Arial but a horrible sea creature that resembles much of human attributes but at the same time vastly different much like the monkey/chimp. I’ve always thought that if mermaids did exist they would look like the ones displayed in Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire. They seem more realistic, unlike the Disney perception of what a mermaid looks like.

  22. why, people think that mermaid looks very beautiful , reason it that they heard about them in the fairy tales. thats y they can;t believe these creatures. they make up their mind to think hope that mermaid is very good in looks. see it does’not matter whether it looks good or bad. important is that mermaid is still exist. no one gone in the deep see, so this mystery is still remained. people only belive in those things which they have seen through their eyes.

    i would like to know from them, have anyone uptill now in his life has seen the God through their eyes???????????……..but still they believe in it.
    then y they have not able to believe in mermaid/alliens as they have not seen these creatures too through their eyes…..

    always see the things through science vision.one should.broaden their mind and views apart of the myth.

  23. i think they …… do exist because i told my friend they were real but she said they are not real so then i showed her a video and some pics then she said sorry for not believing that mermaids weren’t real but they are AWESOME i love mermaids

  24. Guys, mermaids do exists and they don’t leave in oceans, they live in rivers. if u want to see them come to Sabie River by Graskop side or to Inyaka dam in Mpumalanga. At Sabi River u will see a lot of white girls sitting on top of a rock in the middle of the river. u can only see them during sun rise or sun set. I have seen them myself

  25. Hey everyone, mermaids do exist I always thought that they were just magical creatures in stories but recently a “mermaid” washed up on the shore of Suriname, a south american country and is on the news of that country very often they even have videoes showing this creature it appears that the mermaid died and washed up on shore so if anyone has any doubts come for yourself to the country and see and then tell me do you still believe mermaids don’t exist!

  26. I don’t like the theory that manatees behind the myths of mermaids. Have u seen a manatee? The only time they resemble anything human is when thr “breast feeding”. Bt then all these mermaid sightings over the centuries would be about a mermaid and her baby…yet thr are none. I don’t believe mermaids exist bt thr has to b a better explanation for prevalence of fish-tailed women in all ancient cultures. Btw any1 notice that in the womb a human baby @ sum point is female (all vertebrate animals are female for the first 3 mnths) have strange gill-like structures and legs fused together. in rare cases the baby will be born with the legs. The condition is then called mermaid syndrome.

  27. I have a strong belief they exist, the ocean is a very big place, and following on from evolution studies, everything evolved from water to land, so they might have been in existence when there was a movement from water to land, and according to Darwins law on evolution, natural selection makes the body adapt to their environment so obviously flippers wouldnt work on land hence legs grew and adapted.

  28. If they do why havent there been out for everyone to see even one dead and floating the sea doesent keep dead animals

  29. Mermaids do exists…When I was little boy A guy in our community was once dragged by a mermaid into a river..They had 2 call a Sangoma(traditional doc) 2 cum help get dat guy out of de water…If U want 2 C it cum to South Africa at Morula sum Dam, they alwys throw a cow every year into de water for it else twil start causin problems at de Casino…MERMAID does exist

  30. im realy confused! the other part of me wants to believe that they do exist, while the other part of me thinks they dont.if they really exist why don’t they show emselfs out? i would adore to see one even though people claim that they are scary and dengerous,my friend told me that they discovered a dead mermaid in capetown i don’T know if it,s true or not.

  31. listen mermaids do exist because my friends and i did a spell to become a mermaid and its starting to work because i have proof. the 1st proof is that we tried out the power and its starting to work slowly i ask to control water and it moved a little my friend jada ask to heat water so we took a cup of really cold water and she tried and it got a littlw warm and my friend sherkyia askec to freeze water andd her really work. u just have to belive an say the spell it really works trust me i wont lie if i was u could say im crazy but im tellinq the truth

  32. Guys i am certain that mermaids are there but not as beautiful as you would think they live deep in the depths of oceans and huge rivers but not just any ocean or river … i havent figured that part out yet.but why would someone just pop up and make up something as big as this huh?..columbus,and henry hudson both proclaim in their jornals on their ships that they both indeed saw mermaids..: columbus,jan,4,1493.. he wrote. There on the side of my boat all of my men gatherd in a hurry to see what was a mermaid.. not as beautiful as ecpected ,long black witch like hair very pail skin with green looking fish tail. Upper tourso and breast like a woman henry hudson wrote almost the same thing!! But on june 15,1608 so dont tell me they dont exist there is so much evidence its not even funny (:

  33. I guess that whether mermaids exist or not we should keep in mind that mermaids have been told for centuries and every culture have their interpretation of what a mermaid is. So, we should be grateful that we still have these stories passed down through the generations of people who have been on this Earth.

  34. They couldnt exist, because if all mermaids are women, how would they mate and keep the species going?

  35. mermaids are totally real! i watched something on discovery channel and some kids found a mermaid because u know how whales wash up on the shore and the kids went there and there werent just whales on the shore it was one mermaid the kids poked it with a stick and it moved it had webbed hands and everything so BELIEVE IN MERMAIDS!

  36. the mermaids are real i mean it, the dolphins used to be friends with them, that explains why dolphins have helped humans in some part of the world to bring them fish ashore.

  37. After watching Mermaids Body Found on Animal Planet, I do believe in the Aquatic Ape Theory, and mermaids do exist and will remain hidden.. Remember Myth is a word to hide the truth from us all..

  38. Do you really think that a sailor could mistake a 1500 pound manatee for a mermaid? Why is there so many myths, pictures, etc. all similar from across the world from people whom had no contact with one another? If you can believe that the sea had been parted why is it so hard to believe in a mermaid? There are still species being discovered. If humans can hide when they don’t want to be found why can’t a mermaid?

  39. they are real okay? there are proof that fishermen sometimes found corals shaped spears on a fish and the fisherman named Hans Bauer caught the mermaid with his camera
    that’s what surprised me the picture that he showed.
    If you want to know whether the mermaids do exist. then watch animal planets mermaids the body found.

  40. i myself believe in mermaids i have always believed in them and will always believe after watching ”mermaids the body found” WOW. if you dont belive in mermaids i have nothing to say to you but: 1. watch mermaids the body found. that will change everything

  41. If mermaids didn’t exit, how come many cultures that never knew from each other tell stories about them? How come cave paintings that depict mermaids have been found in Egypt? Saying that mermaids don’t exist is stupid and selfish since there is more evidence about them than you can imagine and the ocean hasn’t been explored thoroughly.

  42. Maybe they do exist, i watched a documentary on animal planet , and there were only a few of them left so some had to sacrifice them selves to save the species of mermaids because the megaladon shark ( the really BIG one) had eaten them. So I think they ‘once’ existed, but no longer anymore because we would know about it like we know almost everything on the planet that we live on. But the men who sailed out in sea apparently missed the women they loved and could have been hallucinating a half women and half fish , if that makes sense to you. Plus they would have to come up to breath air like any other mammal living in the ocean. But who knows, maybe their extinct, maybe they found a way to another dimension through the bermuda triangle or some thing, or maybe they’re now on a different planet. Why would we be the only species living in this universe, God wouldn’t have only just created humans and animals on ONE planet, we haven’t discovered every thing yet. But we will, just maybe, depending on how long our kind will live on this planet or even so universe.

    Thanks for reading, (: xo

  43. I am not really sure, I want to believe they are real but I can’t really tell, I think its just another legend of the old ones, my grandma always used to tell me pixies and mermaids do exist, but how would I know?? I don’t have any proof, if they do exist wow its a wonder, and if I ever get the chance I want to go and do research on that, I would really like to see for myself, I don’t want to believe what others tell me I want to go and see for myself.

  44. I saw Body Found on Beach ~ Mermaids Animal Planet .Now i have many questions if they are for real , was problem with it let them live and if they are not for real then just enjoy stories about them. And one thing is for sure long back the first human being who found about dinosaurs , would be call “MAD” . Think about it .

  45. i love mermaids and i wish i was a mermaid and i would be cool to show off to your friends and make them jealous and i would have powers like h2o just add water (tv show)and i would be able to swim really fast and i could use my powers to trick my sister and i do keep a book of mermaids but two days ago my little sister got my book and went to school and showed all her friends now when i go to school everyone trys to throw water on me it’s really annoying

  46. I for sure believe they are real, i mean if you can believe in god which you never see why can’t you believe in mermaids,I mean people would be so selfish to think we are the only human like on earth.

  47. Yes they exist! my friend is mermaid i have proof she gave me a coral ring end its real end at school she acts like a mermaid NO JOKE!!! They r real!

  48. They’re extinct. scientists found evidence off the mermaids existence
    but they died out millions of years ago. They were called aquatic apes. :)

  49. Mermaids exist, when there’s tornado, most houses lose their roofing, trees fall, road signs boards end up implanted, where there’s this tornado thing, there’s a very hazy darkness, the living thing that is inside there is Mermaid, going out from where it stays in search of its kid that is mostly taken with its consent, Mermaids exist..

  50. I actually am a mermaid because my mom is a mermaid and she had me on land with a human man. But us mermaids can go on land but we have to lay in the sun on sand we have to hide so other people won’t discover us mermaids and report us. The thing is if Mermaids gets wet with water when their on land they have to run quickly to a place to hide so they can turn into a mermaid there. But now I live with my dads parents and my mom migrated to a different place. Also, mermaids has a certain power to sing,dance,play the piano,and can do anything you wish them to do,also,making a wish for you… Any questions about my mermaid life email me….

  51. I do believe that they exist because we know more about the moon than our own ocean and it’s extremely hard to impossible to get to the very bottom of the sea look at Giant Squid it’s folklore and it’s real and look around the Amazon we don’t know exactly the amount of species of fish and their are unknown animals in the Amazon and if giant man eating crocodiles 20 feet plus can hide then I’m pretty sure that a mermaid can hide in a planet full of open ocean while we only search close to our own countries.

  52. I’m really big on believing in things that may or may not exist. I was doing some research on deep sea creatures and I found out that some scientist found proof that the 100 ft kraken existed. The ocean is huge we still have yet to discover a lot of it. I say mermaids got to be out there there somewhere.

  53. 1st… To whom ever said we’ve scoured the entire ocean looking for them and the commenter saying we find all these sea creatures we would have found them already, you’re both 100% incorrect. Fact : we humans only have less than 10% of the entire ocean floor discovered and categorized. We are still to this day learning about new deep ocean creatures, the Earth is 75% water so trust that we don’t know every thing that’s in our seas. The bible talks about creatures being made for air and land and sea but rarely ever mentions the name or full description of said beast. To the person who said why believe them they are folklore, are you familiar with the folklore of the Kraken? Do you realize they now consider the Kraken to be a factual Giant Squid species? So, folklore has to originate from somewhere; the stories were made reasons who lived in those times based on their experiences

  54. @Sophia That Animal Planet documentary was fake, it even says so at the end, and Hans Bauer is not a real person. Do some research before making stupid comments.

  55. You know im just here laughing at the people yelling and saying mermaids dont exist because if they really believe that why are you on this page in the first place? You obviously have some doubt in your mind to be here, either that or your bored of your miserable life and your just looking for some drama to start up on the web. If people want to believe in something then let them. We are going to believe no matter what you say anyway so all your rants are in vain.

  56. HI !!!, my name is Isabella and I totally believe in mermaids, because last summer………..
    it’s a totally super day at school camp we had 3 days at school camp and then we go home and stay home for 3 weeks [ I was so excited] so I decided to go swimming in the river with my bestie, so we got in too our super hot bikini ‘s, and went swimming, after an hour she got out but I still stayed in for a another hour or so then I felt something on my hand and it felt like a hand, I dipped under the water and to my fascination I saw a girl with beautiful brown hair, and blue eyes, with a tail of a mermaid, it had scales on it her tail was ocean blue, she put her hand on my check and kissed my forehead. now I can breath under water. THANKS FOR READING THIS!!!! XOXOXOXOX

  57. I really think they exist because if they didn’t, why make a movies about them for etc the little mermaid and who just comes up with a name like that. And why are they hiding them. They are people also.

  58. Hey Mermaids do exist, 95% of the oceans are not yet discovered. Who knew they might be somewhere out there, hiding deep within the oceans.

  59. mermaids do exist those who don’t have the truth of mermaids like me in their soul like me well….. i have nothing to say about them but if mermaids are fake why people even talk about them and know about them how u could say they don’t exist . b.t.w the geologist or the historian got proof if they exist well they are real .and 1 more thing if u c pictures of them on youtube they do not look pretty they are hidious but they do exist i am with the people who beleive in them . i wish u good day 2 the people who have a soul like mine.

  60. Who says they cant exist? they might not be beautiful girls who sing to sailers but there might be a creature which has the appearance of both fish and human! old legends and myths have to come from somewhere.

  61. Mermaids probably don’t exist now but they did …..i know because they would not come up with the little mermaid without inspiration….historians claim that mermaids are all dead because of many huricanes caused by the mermaids and the sinking of ships….also u wonder why would they come up with the mermaid and how they keep producing more mermaids…they have kids like fish lik eggs….thanks for reading I hope this really helped you.✅✔

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