Why Mermaids Could Exist (and more about various ocean anomalies)

Believing that mermaids exist may seem childish, but believing in a lot of things seems childish until you’re shown the science to back it up.

So that’s why I’m here today. To give you the science. Or rather, some factual information to support these theories. Now I’m not implying that you should believe in mermaids, because I make it a habit to not tell people what they should or shouldn’t believe in. However, what I’d like to do is provide some reasons as to why it’s not unrealistic to think their existence is valid. And true to my nature, I have included links to reliable sources below. Also, fair warning: I focus a lot on the Deep Sea zone, because it plays an important role in my theorizing. It’s also just a very fascinating marine biome.

But to return to the topic at hand:

Perhaps the greatest reason that mermaids could exist is that 95% of the ocean has been unseen by human eyes [1]. That’s right—even though the ocean covers more than 70% of planet Earth, we’ve only explored ~5% of it. And of course, mermaids don’t have to be ocean-dwelling creatures. They could exist in lakes, ponds, swamps, and more, which leaves more places for them to be discovered.

This is also good reason for why any water-based cryptid could exist. The Kraken, the Leviathan, and the Megaladon could all be living at the bottom of the sea in dark trenches and giant caverns, as completely oblivious to our presence as we are to theirs.

But really, that’s being theoretical. What isn’t theoretical is the undeniable appearance of the mermaid myth across different cultures and history. As seen in my previous post found here, mermaids first appeared as deities in Assyrian mythology between 700 b.c. to 1000 b.c. But it is said that mystical female entities were shown in cave paintings even earlier than that, in the late Paleolithic period about 30,000 years ago, which is when modern humans  gained dominion over the land and began to sail the seas. [2]

For a common mythological figure to appear in cultures and historical remnants across the world can mean a number of things, as any historian and anthropologist will tell you. It indicates an intermingling of stories and cultural values over time, interactions due to international trade and travel. However, it also is indicative of the fact that mermaids could exist around the world, hence why people around the world would create artwork as well as spoken and written legends about them.

Now theoretically, if mermaids did exist, it would be likely that they exist in the Deep Sea zone (600 feet/183 meters below the surface). So consider the fact that deep sea gigantism—a phenoma that caused the gigantic makeup of sea creatures dwelling on the sea floor, like with Japanese spider crabs, colossal squids, and different types of isopods—could mean if there were mermaids dwelling on the ocean floor, they could be the size of a whale.

beharkei: “Mermaid by Sergey Kolesov ”

(this beautiful piece of artwork is titled “Mermaid” by Sergey Kolesov)

Deep sea gigantism is influenced by pressure, or to be more specific, a combination of Bergmann’s Rule and Kleiber’s Law.

Bergmann’s rule is “an ecogeographical rule that states that within a broadly distributed taxonomic clade, populations and species of larger size are found in colder environments, and species of smaller size are found in warmer regions” [3]

Kleiber’s Law is “the observation that, for the vast majority of animals, an animal’s metabolic rate scales to the ¾ power of the animal’s mass” [4]

The results?

The Japanese Spidercrab, as aforementioned:

Image result for japanese spider crabs

The Colossal Squid:

Related image

(they can grow up to twice the length of a school bus)

And large isopods:

Image result for large isopods

The Deep Sea really is a wild place. It is extremely cold (about 4º C) and dark because of the lack of light, and most creatures are generally transparent or a brownish-black because of it. It’s home to Gulper eels, Snaggletooth fish, Sloane viperfish, and Angler fish.

And to continue the discussion of interesting ocean oddities, let’s not forget about brine pools, which are essentially pockets of seawater that are very salty and therefore denser than the surrounding water. [5] Because they exist on the seafloor and have distinct surfaces and shorelines, they often look like small lakes within the ocean (think of Goo Lagoon from Spongebob).

There’s also Sea Sparkles, which sound as fantastical as mermaids. Sea Sparkles, also known as Noctiluca scintillans, are small, non-parasitic, species of dinoflagellate that appear bioluminescent when disturbed. They can be found all over the world, often along the coast, in estuaries and shallow areas that receive lots of light, which facilitates the growth of the phytoplankton on which the Sea Sparkle feeds. [6]

They look like this:

Image result for sea sparkles

Magical, aren’t they?

So yes, sea sparkles aside, mermaids could exist in the real world. Unfortunately, they probably wouldn’t look like we expect them to look—as in, feminine and beautiful. If those pictures of isopods and eels aren’t indicative enough, merpeople are likely to be very large and more fish than human. They would probably appear quite frightening.

How frightening? Next month I will be covering mermaids in art, and I will be including all manner of spooky sea maiden pictures.

And remember, most of my reasoning is theoretical. I am not a marine biologist or anthropologist, so here is a very interesting article from a more reliable source about why mermaids couldn’t exist. It is (not surprisingly) more scientific than mine.

What do you think? Could mermaids exist?

© 2017 Obliquity of the Ecliptic

The Mothman, the Myth, the Legend

Who is Mothman?

Well, according to a clever text post circulating around the internet, he’s “half moth…half man…….100% boyfriend material.” Amusing, but not too informative. And obviously, this legendary figure has had his appearances in comic books, video games, and the occasional poorly-made TV special, but right now we’ll just be focusing on the one, the true, and the original figure: the red-eyed cryptid from Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

So, according to Wikipedia (the age-old source for things of any real importance), the Mothman is a creature “reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area from November 12, 1966, to December 15, 1967. The first newspaper report was published in the Point Pleasant Register dated November 16, 1966, titled ‘Couples See Man-Sized Bird … Creature … Something’.”

Interesting. But we could go deeper.

Now recently I indulged myself by watching the 2002 film The Mothman Prophecies, based upon John A. Keel’s book bearing the same name, which of course was inspired by the events mentioned above. The movie features Richard Gere as the tortured protagonist and Laura Linney as the blonde cop sidekick. Though it is described as a “spine-tingling, supernatural thriller that will rattle your nerves and shake your beliefs”, I just found it highly entertaining. However, it did cover some important details concerning Mothman’s story.

This movie also seemed like a metaphor in which industry is the greatest evil and Mothman’s a communist fighting the capitalist agenda, but notwithstanding.

For one, it emphasized how Mothman is associated with precognition, or being able to foresee catastrophic events (in this case, the collapse of Point Pleasant’s Silver Bridge) before they occur. Consequently, it is a common belief that a Mothman sighting means disaster and tragedy are nigh. This doesn’t exactly mean that he himself brings calamity. In fact, one might argue that he has good intentions, trying to warn humanity of danger. So to paint him as a blood-thirsty monster out to hunt and kill humans like some television depictions do is kind of silly.

This doesn’t mean he isn’t a chilling figure. Moths overall are known to be a bit spooky. In the movie, one of the characters, Alexander Leek, actually stated that “in ancient cultures, the moth represents a form of the psyche, or the soul immortally trapped in the hellish death realms.” This could explain why a moth-like humanoid would be particularly feared and revered.

Also, the movie pointed out that those who see Mothman up close are described as having inflamed, swollen red eyes afterwards. Mothman himself is described as having glowing red eyes. Coincidence? I think not.

One thing the movie touched on but I feel didn’t sufficiently explain is Indrid Cold, who is somehow associated with Mothman. But my description of him will have to be saved for another post.

And as a final fun fact, there is an annual festival held in Point Pleasant devoted to the Mothman legend. I hope one day to go.

So that, my friends, is the Mothman. I hope I have informed you well, and I know this will not be my last time discussing him and the questions he brings. The real question though is when will he appear and take me far, far away from all this? Only time will tell.

© 2017 Obliquity of the Ecliptic

Mermaids: An Introduction

Mermaids have captured humanity’s imagination since the beginning of our species. These mystical, quasi-fish humanoids known for their enchanting songs, ability to drown naive sailors, and exquisite (or in some cases, terrifying) beauty have sparked thousands of literary works, cinematic ventures, artistic creations, and world-wide debates on the proof of their existence.

Yet while many might recognize these iconic figures in fantasy, few actually realize the history and origins of these beauties, or the scientific speculation that might provide evidence for their being. The history of the mermaid myth spans far and wide, with various nations having assorted stories of different origin. Even in the modern day, each part of the world has a different view of these sea creatures.

First, let it be known that mermaids are an integral part of my character. In other words, I love them a lot. And it is this love, along with my wish to educate the general public (not that the general public reads my blog, but one can dream) about them. Which is why I have begun the “Mermaid-A-Month” series.

Each month, I hope to analyze a different aspect of mermaid mythology—their history, sightings, appearances in literature or art, and so much more.

To start this series, I begin with their etymology. The word “mermaid” comes from old English, with “mer” meaning “sea” and “maid” meaning “girl” or “young woman”. Essentially, “mermaid” just means a woman of the sea, not specifically being half-fish or whatnot. When they actually began to be mistaken for being beautiful women with fish tails will be saved for a later post…

Obviously, the word “mermaid” is not universal. It has many different translations (though you’d be surprised how many languages use the original form as their translation of it). I have given a short list below, taken from this site (obviously since I do not know all these languages, please correct me if you disagree with any of the translations)

Czech: mořská panna
Danish: havfrue
Dutch: zeemeermin
Finnish: merenneito
French: sirène
German: Meerjungfrau
Greek: γοργόνα
Hungarian: sellő
Icelandic: Mermaid
Italian: sirena
Norwegian: havfrue
Polish: syrena
Portuguese: sereia
Romanian: sirenă
Russian: Русалка
Spanish: sirena
Swedish: sjöjungfru
Welsh: môr-forwyn
Yiddish: יאַמ-מיידל
Bengali: মৎসকন্যা
Chinese (both Simplified and Traditional): 美人鱼
Japanese: 人魚
Korean: 인어
Thai: นางเงือก
Vietnamese: mỹ nhân ngư
Filipino: sirena
Indonesian: mermaid
Arabic: حورية البحر
Hebrew: בת ים
Persian: پري دريايي
Afrikaans: meermin
Igbo: mamiwota
Somali: gabareeymaanyo
Swahili: mermaid
Zulu: mermaid

© 2017 Obliquity of the Ecliptic