When people think of mermaids, “real” is not the word they probably are thinking of. They might think of Ariel, from The Little Mermaid. Or, they might think of legends of merpeople from ancient civilizations and wizened old sailors who might’ve had a little too much to drink. Mermaids couldn’t possibly exist, right?
In modern society, the thought of claiming to see a real-life mermaid is laughable. Well, at least to most of us. Though they’re generally considered to be old wives’ tales, there have been several credible reports about real mermaid encounters in the past couple of decades. Here’s what people who claimed to see them had to say…
The Kiryat Yam Mermaids
Israel’s small town of Kiryat Yam became a major paranormal hotspot in 2009 after a group of people claimed to see a mermaid doing tricks in front of spectators. The mermaid in question was seen sunning herself on the beach. When she realized humans were around, she flopped down the beach and immediately dove in the water.
People swear they see her, and skeptics offered a million-dollar reward for proof of the mermaid’s existence. So far, no one has been able to claim the reward.
The Orang Ikan
The mermaid in Kiryat Yam seems to have a fairly good resemblance to a typical mermaid, but most accounts are far scarier. In Indonesia, many locals don’t just remember legends of mermaids, but rather, take them as a known fact. There, they call them the orang ikan, or “fish people.”
In World War II, both Japanese and American soldiers claimed to see hideous fish people with large eyes and large teeth on remote shores of the Kai Islands. Soldiers described the orang ikan as having pinkish skin, large eyes, and lipless mouths with spiny, needle-teeth. Much like other predatory sealife, these creatures had long, sharp claws and webbed hands.
When they spoke, the “mermaids” made a loud, hostile-sounding gurgling noise. Soldiers regularly fled from them, and those that didn’t often found rocks being thrown at them. The locals warned them not to go too close, as the orang ikan were known to attack anyone who’d come in their territory.
Though the reports were made to both sides, scientists never took them seriously—particularly since they had no photographic evidence. However, sightings in and around the Kai lagoons still occur to this day.
The New Zealand Mermaid
One of the most recent sightings of a mermaid didn’t involve a living, breathing being. Rather, it involved the remains of one. In 2014, a group of men came upon what appeared to be the remains of a murder victim on South Island. On closer inspection, the “victim” wasn’t entirely human.
Photographs showed that the woman was very clearly half-fish, and that her eyes were black. Police didn’t know what to do with the unusual finding, so they handed the remains over to the University of Auckland. Even then, professors weren’t able to come up with a good explanation of what they saw.
The Kaiiman of South Africa
South Africa is one of many countries that has its own mermaid tales. In this region, mermaids are called kaiiman, and they’re not friendly in the least bit. A recent encounter in 2008 went on to allegedly prove their nasty reputation.
A small group of friends were hanging out together when they heard some loud banging noises coming from a nearby river. When they investigated, they saw a woman with translucent white skin, black hair, and glowing red eyes.
One of the women nearby went to investigate, only to hear the strange creature let out a long, sad wail. The kaiiman then dove back into the water, never to be seen again. According to legends, this mermaid enjoys luring people to their underwater deaths using mirages.
It seems that the people who saw her foiled her plans of eating that night, since they saw what she truly looked like.
The Mamba Muntu of Zimbabwe
Not to be outdone by South African lore, the people of Zimbabwe also have their own strange tales to tell of fish people. For centuries, people have spoken of Mamba Muntu. This isn’t a mermaid in the traditional sense of the word, but rather, a half-human, half-fish sea deity known for tempting people with “capitalist ideals.”
This may seem like hogwash, but don’t be so quick to judge. In 2012, both white and black river workers spotted an irate group of Mamba Muntu-style mermaids. The mermaids threw rocks at them and terrorized them until they fled the construction site.
In Zimbabwe, seeing irate Mamba Muntu is a terrible omen—a literal sign of a pissed off god. The workers refused to return to the site until priests carried out rituals to appease the mermaids. Since then, the mermaids haven’t made an appearance.
Mermaids in Iceland
On Reddit, there are several people who have claimed to interact with an advanced group of people who live under the sea. User spookyiceland and his friend went to a seaside area in his home country of Iceland. After a normal day of fun, the two decided to spend the night sleeping in their Jeep.
Things started to get weird when they both dreamt of being kidnapped by hideous mermen with poisonous spines. The creatures had amazing technology that were capable of revealing the “greatest sins” a person committed. They said that if the crimes were too high, they “wouldn’t go home.”
Apparently, they were innocent enough. So, the mermen took them to an underground city much like Atlantis then left them back near the Jeep. While these were only dreams, one can only wonder. Why would mermen want to let humans know they exist, and how did two people have the same dream?
Another Mermaid Story
Believe it or not, the Icelandic Redditor wasn’t the only one to claim to see a mermaid on the site. User ApathyZombie noted that he, too, saw what appeared to be a mermaid. Unlike the last story, this happened when he was wide awake.
According to the user, the merman was thin, had a human head, was covered in scales, and had “heavily lidded eyes.” The creature came up to look at him, then quickly dove back in the water. Others around him saw it too, and they were all sober. Apparently, none of them wanted to speak about what they witnessed after the encounter.
Are Mermaids Real?
There have been reports of mermaid sightings throughout history. Some have been harder to explain than others, though many of the sightings were later confirmed to be hoaxes. For the most part, humanity still remains fairly convinced that mermaids are more a thing of legend than they are a reality.
But, the assumptions don’t really manage to explain everything. If mermaids aren’t real, then why do so many different cultures around the world have stories about them. Moreover, why do sightings of these creatures still occur in modern times?
Earth is around 70 percent water, and the vast majority of those watery depths haven’t been explored by humanity. Who’s to say that we just didn’t know of a humanoid species? Until we’ve explored everything, we have no room to talk.