Long ago, there were many a sailor who came onto shore speaking of beautiful creatures encountered at sea. Most of the time, the story ended with tragedies but some were fortunate to be told thereafter.
The story of the mermaids started in Syria around 1000 BC with Atargatis, Goddess of Fertility and Love. There are different variations of her story but the most common one is of her falling for a shepherd and conceiving a child with him. Since he was a mortal he could not withstand her love and perished. Heartbroken, Atargatis gave birth to her child and then plunged herself into a lake. The other gods, refusing to let her give up her beauty, transformed her bottom half into a fish. Thus creating the first mermaid according to our oldest sources.
Many other cultures have tales of mermaids and sirens alike; though all the tales are horrendous in their way. In german folklore, we have Lorelei who was the daughter of Rhine who sat atop a rock in the evenings and sang beautiful melodies, unwittingly sending sailors to their doom. In Greek mythology, they were called Sirens and were much more vicious. They appear in the Odyssey during Odysseus' journey
trying to enchant his crew to the bottom of the sea. Odysseus, having been warned by Circe herself, told the crew to use wax to deafen their ears thus having a successful escape.
There have been many stories of these beautiful creatures throughout history but no proof of such things in the past. Now, we have many odd skeletons crossing our beaches that take similar forms to these creatures but none can confirm nor deny their origin. Mermaid skeletons are relatively popular on search engines, as are the legends themselves. For more info on the skeletons speculated to be of them, I suggest making your own opinions as none can say whether these are real or simply a different aquatic species we have not stumbled upon yet.
I suspect even still, mermaids are hiding away living life as they have for the past thousand years. It is just speculation as I would never go searching in such dangerous waters myself. There may still be some out there who come into contact with humans but keep it secret to preserve themselves. (I'm sure those devious enough would search in hopes of riches to their names) Let us end on the note that none have been confirmed and that the tales of the horrendous creatures are just that, tales. In hopes that, if someone comes across a mermaid, they may learn about their true nature.
I hope to see you all next Tuesday for my next post on mythological creatures!