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Mermaids don't exist, says US government (+video)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has attempted to put an end to the mermaid myth by denying the existence of the fabled aquatic creature. 

By Jeanna BrynerLiveScience / July 5, 2012

Red paint is seen on The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen May 15, 2007. The statue was damaged by vandals.

Scanpix/Lars Rievers/Reuters

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The National Ocean Service's June 27 posting that mermaids don't exist may seem an odd fit for a government agency that focuses on real ocean phenomena. But according to a spokesperson the mermaid posting is just one way to educate people, and perhaps bust some mermaid myths.

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ABC's Cameron Mathison finds out what it takes to be a mythical sea creature.

The timing of the post seems to coincide with the Animal Planet show "Mermaids: The Body Found," which came out at the end of May and explored whether there is "a kernel of truth that lives beneath the legend of the mythic mermaid," according to the show's description.

Not so, says the National Ocean Service (part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA). "No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found," part of the post reads. Nevertheless, a NOAA spokesperson would not confirm that the post was in direct response to the show, which was presented in documentary format.

The reference to "aquatic humanoids" alludes to a controversial theory called the aquatic ape theory, which suggests humans had an aquatic stage in our evolutionary past. Called "pseudoscience" by anthropologist John Hawks on his blog, this theory is not supported by most scientists. 

The Animal Planet summary says its show is "a story about evolutionary possibility grounded in a radical scientific theory – the Aquatic Ape Theory, which claims that humans had an aquatic stage in our evolutionary past."

The mermaids post is part of the Ocean Facts section of the National Ocean Service website to answer inquiries they receive. Since October 2008, they have posted 195 ocean facts items.

"The timing was around that time. I think the TV show came out around Memorial Day and we got a few of the questions [about mermaids]," Keeley Belva, spokesperson for NOAA's National Ocean Service, told LiveScience. "Arguably, yes, the timing is tied to the documentary."

She added, "As we had gotten a couple questions about mermaids, we thought this would be a fun way to talk about it and to have information up about mermaids in different cultures and to draw people into our website and learn more about what NOAA and the National Ocean Service does." [Top 10 Mythical Creatures]

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