The new Animal Planet special “Mermaids: The New Evidence” has created another sensation on the Internet and in the media. The ABC morning show “Good Morning America” even featured a segment about the program. The new show ranked number one in its time slot with 3.6 million viewers, even more than last year’s original mermaid special “Mermaids: The Body Found.” Just like last year, following the broadcast, “Mermaids: The New Evidence” is the number one trending topic on Google.
Also like last year’s broadcast of “Mermaids: The Body Found,” millions of confused viewers believed that the show was a real documentary. The show is actually a mock documentary (mockumentary), a science fiction show meant for entertainment purposes only. It takes a couple of actual facts and builds a story around them.
The factual parts of the show are that: a) the U.S. Navy does perform sonar testing that has been implicated in whale beachings and injuries; b) There is an aquatic ape theory. Everything else about the show is science fiction. Even the aquatic ape theory is highly questionable. There is no evidence for the theory and it has never been accepted by mainstream scientists.
Like last year, NOAA released a public statement in response to an overwhelming number of inquiries about mermaids and the NOAA Fisheries scientist character featured in the show. NOAA stated that “The person identified as a NOAA scientist was an actor.” Last year NOAA not only released a public statement about the show, they also added an entire page about mermaids to their official website.
Good Morning America interviewed Animal Planet’s Charley Foley, the show’s creator, Executive Producer, and co-writer. Foley was also behind “Mermaids: The Body Found” and “Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real.” When asked why there was only a small disclaimer in the end credits about the show being fictional Foley replied, “We wanted people to approach the story with a sense of possibility and a sense of wonder. Hopefully that’s what ‘Mermaids’ did. It allowed viewers to suspend their disbelief.”
Animal Planet’s mermaid and dragon specials are great television but these beings are part of fairy lore, not part of the human world. The shows take these fairies and put them in the realm of cryptozoology, which is fun, but they don’t really belong there.
Mermaids are water fairies that have fascinated humans since far distant pre-history. Cultures around the world, that had no contact with each other, have very similar fairy lore about mermaids. They are magical beings that can shape shift to appear as they please to humans, or choose not to be seen at all. Like all fairies, mermaids may be seen at times of the year when, or in places where the veil between worlds is thinnest. People with the gift of second sight are said to be able to see them. It’s not likely that they can be caught on camera. The passionate response viewers have to these specials demonstrates the importance of fairies in the human psyche.
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