Last month, Nuke the Fridge’s Namtar reviewed a program which aired on Animal Planet entitled “Mermaids: The Body Found.” NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration,) which mainly deals with environmental matters like tsunamis and hurricanes, took the strange step of posting a statement on their website denying that mermaids exist. In a post titled, “No Evidence of Aquatic Humanoids Has Ever Been Found,” NOAA states:
“The belief in mermaids may have arisen at the very dawn of our species. Magical female figures first appear in cave paintings in the late Paleolithic (Stone Age) period some 30,000 years ago, when modern humans gained dominion over the land and, presumably, began to sail the seas. Half-human creatures, called chimeras, also abound in mythology — in addition to mermaids, there were wise centaurs, wild satyrs, and frightful minotaurs, to name but a few.”
The real question is: why is NOAA issuing this statement?
Credit (or blame) Animal Planet (a branch of Discovery), which last month aired a TV show called “Mermaids: The Body Found.” It was a documentary-style show that “paints a wildly convincing picture of the existence of mermaids, what they may look like, and why they’ve stayed hidden…until now,” according to the show’s press Web Page. Indeed, it says, “’Mermaids: The Body Found’ makes a strong case for the existence of the mermaid…”
Though the filmmakers acknowledged that the film is science fiction, for many people it was indeed “wildly convincing.” The show was an “X-Files” type fanciful mix of state-of-the-art computer generated animation, historical fact, conspiracy theory and real and faked footage sprinkled with enough bits of scientific speculation and real science to make it seem plausible. In fact, there were even interviews with real NOAA scientists. As with all good science fiction, there’s a grain of science and truth to it: the so-called “aquatic ape” idea it touted (suggesting our evolutionary ancestors may have lived in marine environments) is a real hypothesis, but has nothing to do with mermaids.
Interestingly, NOAA has a history of addressing a few legends relating to oceans, including Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle. Part of NOAA’s mission is public education and outreach, and if they get enough queries from the public on a given topic (even a mythical one) it’s likely they will address it.
There is one element that may not gel with some people. NOAA is part of the United States government, which falls under the Department of Commerce umbrella. Are they using an elaborate tactic to cover up the existence of our underwater brethren? What do you think?