Visit the Greco-Roman exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and you will see examples of mermaids depicted in ancient art. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has some unique examples of mermaids in sculpture and paintings as well.
When we visit our familiar beach for a day of sun and sand, eventually we’re going to wade out and refresh ourselves in the salty water. This simple exercise exposes us to the alien, and the foreign for the water we stand in isn’t bound to any particular continent or island; no it washes its tides across the surface of our planet by the influence of our moon. Change is inevitable, the tide rises and the sand shifts in new patterns and the sea life must shift with it. A flip-flop lost in a river in Asia may wash up on a beach in New England affirming we are one planet with one super ocean surrounding our lands.
Mermaids, naiads, and sirens are an iconic image of ancient mythology and are present in nearly all cultures bordering large bodies of water. The lakes and rivers of the Americas had their own myths of water people too. The pink freshwater dolphins of the Amazon River are believed by the indigenous people to be their kin of water and taboo to kill or eat. Many humans find the slaughter of dolphins for fishing repugnant. There are indeed fishermen with no reservations in hunting pink freshwater dolphins of the Amazon to bait their nets for giant catfish of all things.
Ancient people believed in the power of magic. Modern humans put their faith into more concrete concepts and yet millions of people visit beaches all around the coasts of America and the highlight of their day is to witness a pod of dolphins or more magically majestic a mother whale and her young calf. A mermaid by definition is a creature half-human and half-fish and our whales’ great and small are the closest we have documented to that description. What is more compelling is our fellow water mammals have been documented showing compassion and altruistic behavior when a human was in eminent danger of a shark attack; a humpback whale interceded for the human. Compassion it seems is not entirely a human characteristic.
Conservation and compassion go hand in hand for if human beings are compelled to conserve and preserve wild lands and wetlands we must be on some level of human emotions feel compassion for creatures displaced by human encroachment. What we purchase and where we purchase products can have global ramifications to the habitat of endangered animals. Be an educated consumer and know where the wood was harvested for your new dining room furniture and whenever possible recycle and re-purpose.
Once upon a time I really enjoyed a great seafood dinner, alas allergies have curtailed that in my life and yet I know without a doubt no part of my meal involved an endangered species. While almost all restaurants I visit have a large seafood menu and many specialties of the sea it is our responsibility as diners to promote ethically caught and harvested food. Our living mermaids are depending on us to be compassionate cousins on land.
Starry Seas image created on Fabriano Tiziano navy blue pastel paper made in Italy. Caran d’Ache Swiss made Pablo pencils with van Gogh metallic watercolors made in the Netherlands.