Mermaid Short Film Recommendations

MerMay might be over, but I still thought I’d cover ten of my favorite mermaid short films, music videos, and related cinematographic content. Actual movie recommendations may come in a later month since I have many to suggest, but right now, I’m just focusing on short videos:

  1. Kiss of a Siren by NuMe, which earned Best Film at the 2014 International Fashion Film Awards.
  2. Psycho Princess: The Little Mermaid by the Vancouver Film School. It is one of their multiple renditions of popular fairy tales with dark twists.
  3. Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Nicola Alexandra, a fan-made movie trailer for the Little Mermaid.
  4. The Disappearance of a Girl by Phildel. This music video does not actually contain any mermaids but is more mermaid-themed, as many of Phildel’s music videos are.
  5. The Angry Mermaid by Friends of the Earth International, which seeks to raise awareness and promote action regarding climate change and ocean conservation.
  6. Compendium II: The Sirens also by the Vancouver Film School. It is part of a series that is a re-imagining of the classic tale of Odysseus.
  7. Kristen McMenamy: The Little Mermaid by Tim Walker, from his series “Far, Far From Land” for W Magazine, in which supermodel Kristen McMenamy gracefully floats in a human-size fish tank. Walker’s article and photography can be found here
  8. The Little Mermaid, the classic animated short film from 1975 which closely follows the original story by Hans Christian Anderson
  9. The Mermaid Short by Wizz, an CGI Animated short film
  10.  No Ordinary Love by Sade, an iconic music video from 2009 that tells the story of a mermaid in love

If anyone has any others to add, I would love to hear suggestions.

© 2017 Obliquity of the Ecliptic

The Best of Mermaid Art

We’re halfway through the month of MerMay, and I’ve seen a great variety of styles, like Dylan Bonner‘s Disney-style digital painting:

#mermay day 2! I wanted to make this one totally different from day 1 in terms of feel and color pallet. #mermay2017 #digitalpainting
Salie Chelon‘s pastel glittering graphic:
And Nati‘s mixed-media aquamarine drawing:
These are just a few of the many beautiful pieces I’ve come across. I recommend checking out artists Daniel Kordek, Philia Lina, Lady Shalirin, Jessica Madorran, and Erika Schnellert for more. Searching the #MerMay tag on Instagram and Tumblr never fails either.

While all this new art is refreshing, I’d like to recall some old favorites of mine, which include both classic mermaid paintings and general digital designs worthy of recognition. Obviously, I can’t include all my favorites, but I’ll certainly include some of the best.

Cabinet of Curiosities Mermaid by Alexandra V. Bach

fantasyartwatch: “Cabinet of Curiosities Mermaid by Alexandra V Bach ”

the Siren Song series by Victor Nizovtsev

belaquadros: “Victor Nizovtsev ”

The Five Sisters by Annie Stegg

megarah-moon: “  “The Five Sisters” by Annie Stegg From Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” ”

Fate by bayardwu

somethingmoresubtle: “ Fate by bayardwu ”

The Little Mermaid by Itsuko Azuma

c0225849_1572262.jpg

Ariel the mermaid by Andra Hancock

fish-tails-siren-scales: “ by Andra Hancock ”

Out of Water by Saiful Haque

cinemagorgeous: “ Out of Water by artist Saiful Haque. ”

La Petite Sirene and the Mermaid Project by Renee Nault

Image result for la petite sirene renee nault

Mermaid Drop by sakimichan

Image result for mermaid sakimichan

Atargatis by Annie Stegg

Image result for Atargatis” - Annie Stegg

Jeune naiade by Paul Émile Chabas

Image result for Paul Émile Chabas (1869-1937) - Jeune naiade

Ulysses and the Sirens by Herbert James Draper

"Ulysses and the Sirens" by Herbert James Draper (1909)

Water nymph by Christian Schloe

Image result for christian schloe art

Mermaid by Charles Murray Padday

Image result for charles murray padday

And finally, Little Mermaid by Mily Knight

Little mermaid by milyKnight

That’s all for now. I always love discovering new art, especially when it involves mermaids, so I’m open to suggestions. And I’d like to remind everyone that all the artwork above is not my own and I claim no ownership of it. All rights reserved for the respective artists.

© 2017 Obliquity of the Ecliptic

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 (and while I don’t mean to digress, here’s a good argument for why the Megaladon most likely no longer exists). 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 History of Mermaids

I can only begin to cover the rich and complex history of the mermaid myth. Obviously, as with any aspect of myth and history, it is very multifaceted. Different cultures all have different stories regarding the origin of these mythological figures, and it would take hundreds of thousands of words to cover them all.

So today, I just hope to answer some basic questions about mermaids’ history and also give you a taste for more. I am not a historian or professional in any way, so my knowledge is gathered from various sources with the links provided below.

Where and when did the idea of the mermaid begin?

Well, we can never be completely sure, but according to Seathos, mermaids first appeared as deities in mythology between 700 b.c. to 1000 b.c.  The story of Atargatis, a myth which appeared in Assyria in 1000 b.c., is about a goddess that becomes a mermaid. She was in love with a human shepherd, but she accidentally killed him and then, overcome with despair, she flung herself into the ocean.  She wanted to become a fish, but since she was so beautiful, only her bottom half became fish-like.

Atargatis was worshiped in ancient Assyria first, but was said to be exalted in Rome and Greece. She is known as Derketo in Greek mythology and considered the inspiration for the Greek goddess Aphrodite (who, if you remember, was said to be born of the sea foam).  She is regarded as “Great Mother and Goddess of Fertility of the earth and water”.  The spread of civilization in the ancient East is also attributed to Atargatis, as she is believed to have taught the people social and religious practices. Her involvement with the conservation of fish and water fertility would explain why the ancient goddess was depicted as a mermaid.

Here’s a photo for reference:
Image result for atargatis
(Wow. What a beauty.)
Now technically speaking, the first mer-person wasn’t female. The Mesopotamian god Oannes predates the Syrian mermaid Atargatis by several thousand years. C.J.S. Thompson, a former English curator, said in his book The Mystery and Lore of Monsters, “Traditions concerning creatures half-human and half-fish in form have existed for thousands of years, and the Babylonian deity Era or Oannes, the Fish-god, is represented on seals and in sculpture, as being in this shape over 2,000 years B.C. He is usually depicted as having a bearded head with a crown and a body like a man, but from the waist downwards, he has the shape of a fish covered with scales and a tail.” And apparently, since his human form was beneath his fish form, he could live among men, as well as in the sea, and thus teach mankind about writing, science, and art. Here is a picture of him:
Image result for oannes
Is it true that some ancient civilizations believed humans were descendants of mermaids?

Indeed it is. In some of the Pacific Island legends, it is said that human beings are descended from both mermaids and mermen. Somewhere back in time, their tails somehow disappeared and replaced by legs, and people were magically able to walk on land. Also, the creator god Vatea from Polynesian mythology was usually illustrated as being half-human, half-porpoise, and Japanese folklore features a mermaid called Ningyo.

Were manatees mistaken for mermaids?
Unfortunately, yes. Back in 1493, Christopher Columbus, sailing near the Dominican Republic, was said to see 3 “mermaids” (manatees) and then describe them as “not half as beautiful as they are painted.”Which would make sense, given that manatees are considered to be sea cows, not beautiful woman of the sea. But Columbus thought America was the Indies, so one shouldn’t always trust his discretion.

Anyway, it’s believed that most mermaid sightings by sailors were actually sightings of manatees, dugongs or Steller’s sea cows (which became extinct by the 1760s due to over-hunting). They look like this:

Image result for steller sea cows

(I guess if you squint, it looks like a really chubby mermaid with no hair and stubby arms)

Note: Let it be known that in European history, mermaids generally meant trouble, especially to fishermen and sailors. Seeing them could mean a terrible storm or ill-fortune was coming, or that you were about to be drowned. This would also explain why mermaids are sometimes believed to be sea witches.

What about sirens?

Sirens deserve a whole month to themselves, so I won’t be going into too much detail now, but if you didn’t know, the original sirens weren’t half-fish at all. They were half-bird and not very appealing, I’m afraid to say. They used their melodious voices to seduce anyone who heard them. They were first mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey.

So there you have it. A brief overview of the history of mermaids. I hope you now feel better informed. Next month, I will be providing some evidence for why mermaids could be real and giving some cases for proof of their existence.

© 2017 Obliquity of the Ecliptic

An Introduction To Mermaids

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.

Over the next several months, I hope to analyze a different aspect of mermaid mythology—their history, sightings, appearances in literature or art, and so much more.

To start, 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:

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