Mermaid Body Found on Beach

A mermaid


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Mermaid Body Found on Beach?

Mermaid Found
Viral images allegedly show the carcass of a dead mermaid. Image source: unknown, circulating via email

Sirens of the sea have long held fascination, so it is little wonder that tales of them spread swiftly via email and social media. After the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, an email hoax spread with viral images of a purported mermaid that washed up on a beach in India.

The photos didn't show the beautiful Ariel or one of her kindred, but rather a fairly grotesque mummified corpse with a fish tail instead of legs. The creature also had long, clawed fingers and spiny fins on its back. Rather than flowing hair, the scalp bore a hairdo more similar to a troll doll.

  • Description: Email hoax / Viral images
  • Circulating since Feb. 2005 (this version)
  • Status: Fake / False

Text Example of the Mermaid Found Email

Email contributed by D. Bridges, Feb. 14, 2005

Below are the pictures of a mermaid found at marina beach (CHENNAI) last Saturday. The body is preserved in the Egmore museum under tight Security.
Note: Mermaid is called as KADAL KANNI in Tamil which is an imaginary Creature described in stories, with the upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish).

Mermaid or hoax? Did the tsunami shake a mermaid from her undersea lair and cast her onto a distant shore? There is something fishy about this story, and not just the poor creature's tail.

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Purported Mermaid Image

Mermaid pictures
Image source: unknown, circulating via email

The text circulating with the email story is false and the images are fake. The proof is that the photos were already circulating well before the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004.

In fact, all three photos were previously alleged to have been taken in the Philippines (and elsewhere). They certainly weren't taken in Chennai, India, nor is there a preserved mermaid carcass in Chennai's Egmore Museum (officially known as the Government Museum).

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Fake Mermaid Photo

Mermaid pictures
Image source: unknown, circulating via email

In any case, mermaids are creatures of myth and legend, not the natural world. While there does exist an ancient tradition (primarily in Japan) of fabricating "mermaid carcasses" out of fish skins and animal bones for exhibiting, there are no documented examples of the real thing having been discovered.

By far, the most famous "mermaid" specimen in history was P.T. Barnum's Feejee Mermaid, purchased secondhand by the great showman in the mid-1800s and exhibited throughout the United States as a sideshow attraction.

The glaring irony in all this mermaid fakery, with respect to the ancient tales on which it's based, is that the mummified specimens one typically finds on display are, without exception, hideous in appearance. "The incarnation of ugliness," was how one American critic described Barnum's faux creature. Meanwhile, the classic mermaid of folklore and pop culture is invariably represented as beautiful and alluring. It's a discrepancy no one ever bothers to explain.

Sources and further reading:

Preserved Yokai of Japan Cryptozoology Online, 29 June 2009

The Feejee Mermaid Museum of Hoaxes

The Feejee Mermaid Archive The Lost Museum

The Merman's Home Page