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Mermaids: They’re All Around Us


Lately I’ve gotten acquainted with a mermaid. Her name is Shelley Opearls. She has been keeping me up on mermaid life in the Southeast.

Shelley Opearls

Shelley Opearls

As a native of coastal Wilmington NC, I’m of course a great fan of merfolk and their particular grace and enchantment. I’m not alone. Mermaid Shelley burbles:

I certainly have been seduced by the magical call of the mythical mermaid. Dreaming of sitting on a giant rock seaside, combing my long golden hair with a lovely comb made from coral and pufferfish spines, while the pearls that I collected and strung into a long necklace earlier in the day sway in the breeze.

Hearing all this from Ms. Opearls, I began to realize that I was seeing lots of interest in mermaids, outside the world of Disney. I’m not sure what to make of it. Certainly the merfolk are appealingly supernatural, sexy, and beachy. But that has always been true.

The majority of today’s professional and hobbyist mermaids will tell you that they were fascinated by mermaids as a child. Many of them, including me, dreamed of BEING a mermaid! I remember imagining that I could swim away, from all the human reality that surrounded me daily,into a water world of amazing creatures, beautiful coral beds and undersea caverns.

Mermaid Shelley Opearls thinks the burst of interest has been inspired by recent publicity. People read about events like NC MerMania a few weeks ago at the Greensboro, NC Aquatic Center. The weekend program included the Mersquerade dinner dance, swimming with mermaids, and workshops on topics such as fitness and mer-careers.

This is not an isolated event. There are Mermaid (and Mer-men) Meetup groups here and there across the country. Mermaid troupes are easy to locate, for performing at children’s birthday parties and other such events.

At MerMania 2016

At MerMania 2016

Google tallies hundreds of thousands of people searching for “mermaid tails,” with a surprising number specifying that they be real. Of course there are lots of merfolk on Facebook. As the word spreads, more ordinary folk dive in.

Swimming as a mermaid is so much fun and good exercise, once you get past the awkward feeling of having your human legs bound together…. It’s an escape from reality. A journey into our own imagination that no one else can touch or control. Pure artistic freedom to play.


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  • February 3, 2016 at 4:20 am Reply

    I have never been interested in merfolk. Seems too fantastic for me.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 4, 2016 at 12:26 am Reply

      How about flower spirits, kenju?

  • Thought you might enjoy seeing two very little mermaids, my friends Charlotte and Savanah
    February 3, 2016 at 11:19 am Reply
    • Peggy Payne
      February 4, 2016 at 12:25 am Reply

      Couldn’t get the site to open, Lee. The message said maybe I wasn’t a member of the group.

      • Lee Grohse
        February 7, 2016 at 10:09 am Reply

        Oops. Sorry

        • Peggy Payne
          February 7, 2016 at 10:09 pm Reply

          They remain another mermaid mystery, Lee.

  • February 4, 2016 at 6:29 pm Reply

    I just wrote a novel about mermaids. It’s not the traditional Mermaid novel. More information is on my author page.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 5, 2016 at 4:00 pm Reply

      Wow, Joseph McGarry, I just had a look. Your Operation Mermaid has a fascinating premise. Looks like you have other watery novels too. A favorite subject of mine.

  • February 5, 2016 at 4:36 am Reply

    Wow! That’s me in the first picture! Thanks so much for featuring merfolk! We are the rising stars of the fantasy world! <3

    • Peggy Payne
      February 5, 2016 at 4:02 pm Reply

      Hi Marina, thanks for the ID. I got the art from Shelley Opearls. “Rising stars of the fantasy world,” says it all. When I first saw your wow-that’s-me comment, I thought that it was a joke from one of my more land-bound friends.

      • Marina the Mermaid
        February 5, 2016 at 7:05 pm Reply

        Haha. No, that’s really me! And I have to tell you, my husband (or merologist as he likes to be called) and I recently moved to Laramie, Wyoming and being in this cold dry place so far from my mersisters and any water to swim in is very tough. Being so land locked is killing this mermaid! I think people underestimate how much freedom and self connection comes from swimming and being a mermaid. There’s no greater feeling in the world than getting in the water with your tail and just being at peace and feeling whole.

        • Peggy Payne
          February 5, 2016 at 8:04 pm Reply

          I hope you find water soon, Marina!

  • March 6, 2016 at 3:34 pm Reply

    Don’t forget the mermen. 😉

    • Peggy Payne
      March 7, 2016 at 5:02 pm Reply

      Thanks, Merman Dan. Don’t know how I managed to leave y’all out.

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