Animal Planet’s “Mermaids: The New Evidence” offers up a scientific take on mermaids, and they’re nothing like what Hollywood has shown us — they look more like aliens with tails and sound a lot like pilot whales. However, by not making the sea creatures resemble Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” or “Splash” star Daryl Hannah, the show managed to spark a Twitter debate about the existence of aquatic beings related to humans. According to a May 26 report by the International Business Times, some people were once again taken in by an Animal Planet “mockementary.”
When the first special about mermaids aired on Animal Planet last year, it fooled so many people that Snopes.com decided to debunk “Mermaids: The Body Found” on its website. The show featured a faux scientist from the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), so the organization also tried to distance itself from the mockumentary by releasing a statement saying that “No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found.”
“Mermaids: The New Evidence” probably didn’t fool as many people this time around, but it tried really hard to make believers out of the gullible. The show once again referenced the “aquatic ape theory” that claims that humans’ ape ancestors once went through an aquatic stage. The show takes this real (but not very popular) scientific theory one step further by claiming that these aquatic apes evolved into mermaids. It also turns the government into the enemy by claiming that the Navy is testing a sonar weapon that is causing mermaids to beach themselves.
The new “evidence” presented on the show included camera footage allegedly taken by American tourists in Israel. The video shows what appears to be a mermaid leaping from a rock back into the ocean after being spotted. There’s also footage of a fish struggling after being struck by a spear. Since the video was taken far below the sea near an oil rig, there’s no way a human spear fisherman could have attacked the animal.
The show also references P. T. Barnum’s famous “Fiji mermaid,” which was a sideshow attraction back in the 1800s. The Fiji mermaid was sort of real — it was a real fish tail sewn onto a real monkey’s torso. However, “Mermaids: The New Evidence” makes the fake claim that Barnum also procured the body of a real mermaid. It was allegedly lost in the real 1865 fire that destroyed Barnum’s American Museum.
The show then provides what it calls the most conclusive video evidence of the existence of mermaids yet. While two geologists are in an underwater submarine listening to the mermaids “talk” to each other, a webbed hand slams up against the window. It’s similar to footage from “Mermaids: The Body Found” that allegedly shows a captured mermaid in a tank, and it’s not really more conclusive than the previous video of two boys finding a screaming mermaid on the beach. But since it’s all fake, what does it really matter?
“The New Evidence” even talks to skeptics who try to debunk some of the video “evidence” and includes hoax videos and a fake CNN report in a desperate bid to fool a few viewers. It also delights in how popular “Mermaids: The Body Found” was, pointing out that it became a trending topic on Google and Twitter last year. The show even hilariously crows about how Kim Kardashian and her sisters tweeted about the first special.
“The New Evidence” also got a lot of Twitter attention, but the tweets that the IB Times collected show that people weren’t as easily fooled this time around. One user claimed that she had evidence proving that mermaids are real — she posted a photo of Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.” There was also a tweet from one user who joked that he didn’t know that Zach Galifianakis was a mermaid expert, pointing out the resemblance between “The Hangover Part III” star and the fake NOAA scientist who was interviewed on “The New Evidence.”
However, there were also some tweets from people claiming that they really do believe in mermaids, so Animal Planet did succeed in fooling a few viewers. Maybe now the network will try to convince everyone that centaurs are real.