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Are Mermaids Real?

Sightings | "Cryptozoology" | Debunking | The "Feejee Mermaid"


Tally of sightings from Karen Jacubec's History of Mermaids page.

Accounts and Sightings of Mermaids by Orkneyjar's Sigurd Towrie, on Orkney mermaid sightings.

"Sightings of Mermaids & Water Spirits" mostly from Benwell/Waugh Sea Enchantress: The Tale of the Mermaid and Her Kin (1961), compiled by "Celedriel" who has a site devoted to sightings of fairies and other mythical beings.


A note on cryptozoology: Cryptozoology is the study of "hidden" animals. Cryptozoologists look either to find creatures like the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti, or "re-find" seemingly extinct species like the Tasmanian wolf (Thylacine) and New Zealand's giant moas. The vast majority of zoologists regard cryptozoologists with derision, while they accuse the academic establishment of unfairly marginalizing innovative outsiders. But even cryptozoologists don't generally touch mermaids. For example, no mention of mermaids can be found among the many topics on the Wikipedia entry or on the website of the The International Society of Cryptozoology.

"Mermaids Exist" Wishful thinking; the "aquatic ape theory"; "the too smart for cameras" theory; and that familiar cryptozoologist canard, the coelacanth.[1]

Some comments on mermaid possibilities, compiled by Melissa Alles, from Michael A. Delahoyde's Monsters.

"Only a still-unrecorded species of recent Sirenia, or possibly—though much less likely—an unknown form of primate adapted to sea-life, could explain the abundance and persistence of merfolk reports in certain seas up to modern times."

Cryptozoological mermaid links.

Virtual Institute of Cryptozoology has mermaid speculation.

"Another hypothesis, although much less likely, would be an aquatic primate, a kind of ape adapted to marine life, having get by convergency the tail of a cetacean."

Debunking "Dead Mermaid Found in the Philippines" debunking.

Mermaids: Fact or Fiction? by "BM," Investigator (1997). Sometimes debunking comes across as poorly as what's debunked.[2]

The "Feejee Mermaid"

The Feejee Mermaid Archive. Contemporary newspaper accounts, advertisements and Barnum's own recollections. From the Lost Museum.

See also "Barnum and Science in the Antebellum Era" by Paul Semonin.

Juan Cabana's Cabana has a remarkable gift for taxidermy art of the Victorian Feejee mermaid, endeavoring "to create the most realistic mermaids and creatures the world has ever seen," building "fantastic new creatures that once roamed the Earth, for people to enjoy today." Mermaids are found in the Mermaid Gallery. I also marveled at his Strange Curiosities, including a "Manosaur," "Authentic Alien Head," and others.

19th-Century naturalist breezily recounts his encounters with Feejee mermaids, from Curiosities of natural history by Francis T. Buckland (1860). Mermaids occupy pages 411–421, and include a run-down of natural explanations for mermaid sightings and Buckland's notes on an amusing talk by Barnum. Some highlights.

On the male mermaid he examined: "altogether the featues of the merman are those of a disagreable old man, who was trying not to laugh"
On how taxidermy mermaids are growing rare, even in the coutry: "The good folks of England are getting every year and year more educated, and mermaids do not take so well now as formerly, when pack-horses performed the part of railways, and horn-books composed the village library."

Museum of Hoaxes blurb.

Amazon. The Feejee Mermaid and Other Essays in Natural and Unnatural History by Jan Bondeson.

Reviewed by Justin Nordstrom from Esoterica (2000)

"Overall, The Feejee Mermaid will be likely prove more important to scholars for its presentation of previously under-explored material than for advancing or informing academic debate."

1850 Newspaper Advertisement for the Boston Museum. This is a wonderful advertisement, running the gammut from religious scenes, birds, insects, fish, indian massacres, slave beatings, Egyptian and Peruvian mummies, the duck-billed platypus and, of course, the Feejee Mermaid.

Harvard University Gazette item on the Peabody Museum's mermaid.

Wikipedia: Fiji Mermaid. Needs more.

A good picture and some text by Barnum from the Rosicrucians. I'm not sure why.

I've gathered all the photos in a Feejee Mermaid gallery.

Bonaventure University page on their Feejee Mermaid, which was only (re)discovered in 1996.

Roadsite America links.

Pen and ink: "The Woman with the Fegee Mermaid" James G. Mundie, from Mundie's diverting Prodigies, an "on-going series of drawings … of 'anomalous humans' — sometimes called 'monstrosities' or 'freaks' - in contexts borrowed from artworks of centuries past."

Mixed media: "Feejee Mermaid" by Heather Hudson.

"The Truth About Japanese Mermaids..."on a mermaid in a Shinto temple.

LibraryThing: Catalog your books online.

If you enjoy this site you may like this other site by me:

Seahorse and Sea Dragon Central. Comprehensive guide to seahorse and sea dragons.

Angels on the Web. Images and other web resources on angels in Western culture, religion and art.

Hammerhead Shark! Hammerheads in all their glory, with a picture galery.