Mermaids: Are they real? NOAA says 'no,' but Mom and Animal Planet say ...
Mermaids, for the mom who wrote the book on them, spark the most amazing questions from people who should know better. Still, Mom and Animal Planet want to stretch childhood just a little longer.
Ever since the first little mermaid sat on a rock to sing a scale, children have asked parents, “are mermaids real?”Skip to next paragraph
Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.
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Depending on our personal commitment to the maintenance of childhood innocence and the magic of TV, especially Animal Planet’s Mermaids docu-tales (documentary fairytales) we can make childhood stretch just a bit longer. However, be careful what you wish for, lest you end up with adults who find themselves, like Peter Pan, unable to grow up and face the music of real science on sirens.
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Given the ocean of Titanic news events we must all slog through daily, it’s little wonder I – who literally wrote the book on Mermaids – meet so many adults as well as children who ask me, “Are mermaids really real?” Over the past 10 years of living in Norfolk, Virg. where I have written two children’s books about merfolk and created a read and walk story trail from one larger-than-life-size mermaid sculpture to the next.
While I love science, I also have a household of men, four sons and a husband, who are all serious, logical, literal business 24-7. In response to that, I try to generate a little mommy magic and occasionally take a poke at science just to lighten things up for my sons and my sanity. Given the fact that science tends to flip-flop on everything from the value of fish oil in our diets to the shroud of Turin, I think it’s OK to have a little fun at its expense every now and then with a mermaid tale or two.
Last night, Animal Planet followed-up its science fictional, but photorealistic, “Mermaids: the body found,” with “Mermaids: The New Evidence.” The new mer-mentary asks us to keep on believing that mermaids are among us, if only through the some very fishy video.
Last year when the first “documentary” came out in May, I was filling in as an editor at a local daily newspaper and had to call someone in a city office here for comment on a story about the how the broadcast was impacting tourism.
Norfolk is known as The Mermaid City because our city symbol is the mermaid and more than 300, 8-foot-long, 4-foot high, mermaid sculptures dot the landscape. More mermaid sculptures, mostly by local Artist Georgia Mason, are added to our streets by private collectors and businesses every year.
To my eternal shock, the city official asked to “go off the record” asking me, “Are mermaids really real? I swear never to tell another living soul, but I need to know because I’ve always believed and I know your books explain everything about them. I know you lived on a sailboat. You must know the truth.”
I suppose now is as good a time as any to admit to being the one behind Merwiki which I began with my youngest son immediately after the first Animal Planet mockumentary and the NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) response debunking our girls came to light. The site regularly generates e-mail questions from around the globe on the legitimacy, history, and physicality of mermaids. I try to answer as many as I can each week.
Any time I am asked if mermaids are real, I tell the same story; and when that fails, I quote Shel Silverstein.