Woman pursues dream of becoming a mermaid, joining hundreds worldwide


An Australian woman ­has left her job to pursue her real dream of becoming a mermaid.

After seeing a video online on 'mermaiding,' Mermaid Ayla (as she introduces herself) was inspired to create her own tail, purchase a monofin and learn the all-important dolphin kick, necessary for any budding mermaid.

As Mermaid Ayla mentions in the video, there are hundreds of people around the world who spend their free time as mermaids and mermen, swimming in pools and open bodies of water (a quick search for "mermaiding" on YouTube will give you an idea of how they do it). Many also train themselves to be more mermaid-like by holding their breath in order to stay under water longer.

For some women mermaiding isn't just a hobby, it's their job. The mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida don tails and put on shows for park visitors daily. Weeki Wachee's mermaid shows have been a draw to the park since they began in 1947, and the mermaids are trained both as ballerinas and SCUBA divers to perform.

While the community of merfolk in the world isn't very large, they are a well-connected and active group. Mermaids and mermen can be found connecting online at MerNetwork, where they share tips on making and buying tails, as well as discussing community events like the annual Mermaid Convention (MerCon for short) in Las Vegas. During MerCon, the group will honour merfolk with the World Mermaid Awards, held for the first time last year.

Mermaid fanatics do exist in Canada, as you can find them posting on message boards and purchasing tails around the Internet. But there isn't a formal mermaid group for Canadians — yet. Canada definitely has a strong tie to merfolk, however, a much-shared story online tells of a real mermaid sighting back in 1967 as a B.C. Ferry made its way through Active Pass. Passengers claimed, according to a story in The Examiner, that they saw a mermaid with long hair, the top half of a woman and the lower half of a porpoise. Legend has it she was sitting on a rock eating a salmon. The story was reported in The Times Colonist, but there's no archived copy of the article available online. This leaves it up to those who chose to be merfolk to continue on the tradition in Canada.

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