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Mermaids (mythical creatures)

29 Jul 2016

Our Subjects / Ā Mātou Kaupapa:
Animals, Society and culture

Where can I find information about mermaids?

LEVEL: Primary / Intermediate

Mermaids are mythical creatures which are part human and part fish. Mermaids and mermen (male mermaids) appear in traditional legends or folk tales from all around the world including Ancient Greece, Iran, Japan and Scotland.

A good place to start looking for information about Merpeople (male and female mermaids) is Wild Facts. Wild Facts is a website about unusual animals - mermaids are half fish remember!  If you type the word mermaid into the search box at the top of the screen. You'll get search results for both mermaids and dugongs. Some believe that dugongs are behind the mermaid legends.

The National Geographic website has some great information about manatees which are closely related to dugongs. History.com has an account of Christopher Columbus seeing mermaids in 1493. The article also mentions manatees.

But are they real? The National Ocean Service (United States of America) has an article called Are mermaids real? it calls mermaids 'aquatic humanoids'. Aquatic meaning they live in or around water and humanoid meaning they are human like, or appear human.

HOT TIP: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. The National Ocean Service website has .gov rather than .govt in it's address because it's an American government website. (If you're not sure how reliable a website is, check the About, or About Us section of the website. It can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.)

There is a long history of mermaid hoaxes (tricks). If you do a Google search you'll find lots of Youtube videos and other websites claiming to have evidence and facts about real mermaids.

It's important to always double check the information you find online so you don't get caught out by hoaxes or incorrect information.

HOT TIP: It’s best to avoid sites like Wiki or Yahoo!Answers as anyone can put any answers there, and the information isn’t checked.

You've probably heard of the Hans Christian Anderson story The Little Mermaid, there have been a large number of other books published with mermaid stories and legends. Check out your local public library or school library to see if they hold any of these books.

To find out about other mythical beings see our entry on Mythical Creatures.

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