Mermaid Body Found? In Search of Folk With Fins

Posted by: Karl Shuker on June 1st, 2013

Following Animal Planet‘s mermaidmock-umentary‘, here are some cases of supposed merbeings that do remain intriguing and unsolved:

 Dr Karl Shuker with his Feejee Mermaid, close-up

Further details can be obtained here on my ShukerNature blog.

Karl Shuker About Karl Shuker
My name is Dr Karl P.N. Shuker. I am a zoologist (BSc & PhD), media consultant, and the author of 25 books and hundreds of articles, specialising in cryptozoology and animal mythology. I have a BSc (Honours) degree in pure zoology from the University of Leeds (U.K.), and a PhD in zoology and comparative physiology from the University of Birmingham (U.K.). I have acted jointly as consultant and major contributor to three multi-author volumes on cryptozoology and other mysterious phenomena. I am the Life Sciences Consultant to The Guinness Book of Records/Guinness World Records (Guinness: London, 1997-present day), and was consultant to Monsters (Lorenz Books: London, 2001), as well as a contributor to Mysteries of the Deep (Llewellyn: St Paul, 1998), Guinness Amazing Future (Guinness: London, 1999), The Earth (Channel 4 Books: London, 2000), and Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained (Chambers: London, 2007). I appear regularly on television & radio, was a consultant for the Discovery TV series Into the Unknown, and a question setter for the BBC's quiz show Mastermind. I am a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, a Member of the Society of Authors, and the Cryptozoology Consultant for the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ). I have written articles for numerous publications, including Fortean Times, The X Factor, Paranormal Magazine, FATE, Strange Magazine, Prediction, Beyond, Uri Geller's Encounters, Phenomena, Alien Encounters, Wild About Animals, All About Cats, All About Dogs, Cat World, etc. In 2005, I was honoured by the naming of a new species of loriciferan invertebrate after me - Pliciloricus shukeri.

7 Responses to “Mermaid Body Found? In Search of Folk With Fins”

  1. springheeledjack responds:

    This has been one of those cryptids that has perplexed and fascinated me though I can’t really put any kind of weight of belief behind them.

    There are plenty of reports, and while I can definitely see a mis-identification for a quick surface sighting among sailors: a bob of a head followed by a splash of a tail which might be assumed to be a mermaid when in fact it could be a seal or some other fish a sailor might not be familiar with.

    However, that being said, some of the accounts are pretty clear that what was seen was part human and part fish. Again, chimera are usually just a person’s interpretation of what they’re seeing when it’s unknown and said person is trying to ascribe characteristics to it in terms of what they do know.

    On the other hand, I just don’t believe that no matter how long a sailor has been at sea he would be so lovelorn that he’d mistake a manatee for a woman:) I find that a stretch as far as an unknown cryptid in the depths with somewhat human characteristics (at least I’ve never been that lonely or desperate…:)

    There are not enough sightings in present day or as a whole to make me fall under the banner of mermaids, but I still find it interesting that stories persist and every once in a while someone claims to see one.

    As for the mocumentary–it’s that kind of show that gives cryptozoology a bad name.

  2. cryptokellie responds:

    Truth be told, “Finding Bigfoot” has more going for it than mermaids – since there isn’t any real evidence for mermaids of any kind.

  3. Bigfoot Seekers via Facebook responds:

    We all just thought we would like to be on a deserted Island with a bunch of Mermaid’s.No thank you.

  4. corrick responds:


    With regard to the Cape Brooklyn Eagle newspaper report of 22 August 1886 of fishermen from Cape Breton [an island off the coast of Nova Scotia) spotting a mysterious “merbeing. You wrote, “I would be inclined to identify this particularly hirsute merbeing as a seal, quite probably a fur seal.”

    Pretty sure you meant a true seal and not an eared one. There are no species of Otariidae in the North Atlantic. Moreover, no type of eared seal can maintain a vertical position while treading water. Only Phocidae, the true seals can and it is often called “bottling.” Most likely what they saw was a harbor seal.

    And what, no mention of Steller’s sea monkey? -;)

  5. Karl Shuker responds:

    Hi Chris, No, I did mean a fur seal. In reality, there is no KNOWN species of Otariidae in the North Atlantic, but the northern fur seal is common in the North Pacific, so it is not impossible that an occasional straggler might reach the North Atlantic via the Arctic Ocean. Also, its profuse fur and its foreshortened muzzle increase this species’ similarity to the Cape Breton merbeing, which was only described as ‘sitting’ (whatever that meant), not specifically as raising itself vertically. I think that fishermen would recognise a harbour seal for what it was. Re Steller’s sea monkey: I’ve never truly thought of that as a merbeing, but simply as an unusual pinniped.

  6. corrick responds:

    See your point about a fur seal theoretically being a possible suspect. You’ll get no argument from me as I’m convinced animal vagrants should always be suspect #1 when investigating any well-documented historical cryptid sighting. Modern ones as well.

  7. MattPriceTime responds:

    As stated in another posting here, i believe that if mermaids exist, they aren’t half-fish and are pure aquatic mammals. Reports of them pretty much always have their tails being used like a dolphin, seal or whale and not like a fish. They have mammary glands which wouldn’t fit with the reproductive system of a fish on the bottom. It would make far more sense if their bottom half were more like a dolphin or a seal. The fact they often come to the surface is a clear indicator they have lungs instead of gills, making them again mammals. Plus if siren stories are true, we know sometimes certain mammals can go for another type not of their own species.

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