The publics’ imagination must have been sparked by Animal Planet’s show Mermaids: The Body Found, because the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a statement refuting the existence of the mythical half-human, half-fish women who haunt the seas in the myths of myriad seafaring cultures.
Animal Planet’s website calls Mermaids: The Body Found “science fiction based on some real events and scientific theory.” But that doesn’t stop Animal Planet from proclaiming in large, capital letters immediately below that the program “paints a wildly convincing picture of the existence of mermaids, what they may look like and why they’ve stayed hidden…until now.”
NOAA felt compelled to issue a statement. “No evidence of aquatic humanoid has ever been found,” it proclaims.
NOAA's statement delves into some of the history behind the mermaid, noting that magical female figures first appeared in 30,000-year-old cave paintings, and that many cultures, from the Greeks to Australian aboriginals, have mermaid myths. NOAA spokeswoman Carol Kavanagh told the BBC that the statement was written from publicly available sources because they “don’t have a mermaid science program”.
The agency says that the mystery behind the prevalence of mermaids in ancient mythology is “a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists.”