The Many Myths of Mermaids

Ningyo, Japan

A monster of Japanese folklore is described as a giant fish of golden scales with a human face and a monkey's mouth, sometimes with horns and fangs. While consumption of ningyo flesh was said to grant eternal youth and beauty, the act of catching the creature brought storms and misforntune. Should a ningyo be washed ashore, it was considered an omen of war and calamity. Learn more

Selkie, Northern Isles of Scotland

Selkie means "seal folk" which are fittingly a being capable of shedding seal skin to shapeshift and become human. Legends often explore female selkies being coerced into relationships with humans by someone stealing and hiding their sealskin. The killing of seals was thus said to cause misfortune for the perpetrator. Learn more

Iara, Brazil

Known as the "lady of the lake", Iara was a young, beautiful indigenous Amerindian woman with a tail resembling that of a freshwater river dolphin. She would sit on a rock next to a river combing her hair in the rays of the sun. She could sense the proximity of a man and would sing gently to lure him into a spell that would compel a man to leave anything to live with her underwater. In some legends, Iara was descirbed as a women talented in the art of warfare who had to defend her life from jealous brothers, killing her brothers. In retaliation, her brothers friends attempted to drown her, and she turned into a mermaid, forever seducing and drowning men in the river. Learn more


Mami Wata, Africa

Mami Wata, meaning "mother water", were often feminine god-like beings with the torso of a woman and the tail of a fish or serpent, often accompanied by a large snake symbolizing divinity. Often carrying a mirror, Mami Wata performed rituals and worship ceremonies with her sacred powers, using her mirror to move through the present and future. Her devotees were said to be able to realise their own reality by imaging themselves in her world. She was said to abduct followers and transport them to a idyllic place underwater or in the spirit realm. Learn more

Merrow, Ireland

The merrow-maiden was half gorgeous woman, half green-scaled fish with webbed fingers, who often would be combing her hair. Described as benevolent, gentle, modest, and affectionate, the merrow often formed attachments with humans and reports of inter-marriage were recorded. Eventually, the merrow would inevitably return to the sea, their natural disposition eventually overcoming their bonds with humans. Merrow music could be heard from the farthest depths of the ocean. Learn more