Mermaids have been a subject of fascination for centuries. Cultures from all over the world, that had no contact with each other, have mermaids in their folklore, all with very similar descriptions. From these stories and modern movies everyone know what mermaids are, but few people have been able to provide evidence to testify to their existence. Skeptics are many, but there are also those who believe. For those intrigued by the question of whether or not mermaids exist, see below for a handful of documented mermaid sightings—then decide what you believe.
1. May 2013 - Kiryat Yam, Israel
Kiryat Yam is the only place in the world where a $1 million reward is up for grabs for the first person who can provide conclusive footage capturing a real mermaid. The local government has offered this reward in response to the numerous mermaid sightings there.
Allegedly there is a mermaid that appears sometimes at sunset. One of the first people to see the mermaid was Shlomo Cohen: "I was with friends when suddenly we saw a woman laying on the sand in a weird way. At first I thought she was just another sunbather, but when we approached she jumped into the water and disappeared. We were all in shock because we saw she had a tail," Cohen was quoted as saying by Israel National News.
See the short clip featured below for a taste of what some are claiming to be a real mermaid caught on camera this year, at Kiryat Yam.
2. March 2013 - Greenland Sea
This year, on March 6, 2013, marine geologist, Dr. Torsten Schmidt, released extraordinary footage of what he believes to be a mermaid that he captured on camera during one of his deep-sea explorations.
Contracted by the Iceland GeoSurvey, Dr. Schmidt and his Danish team worked on "seismic mapping and sampling of the ocean floor" to locate promising sites for oil and natural gas reserves.
At nearly 3,000 ft (1,000m) below the ocean's surface, Dr. Schmidt reported not only seeing some interesting phenomenon, but also hearing some remarkable things. After reporting to the Iceland GeoSurvey about the strange sounds he heard when he was scanning the ocean floor, he requested to undertake an investigation, which was declined.
"We were reminded of our confidentiality agreements. And we were told we could not share our recording with anyone else," Dr. Schmidt told journalist Jon Frankel on Animal Planet's documentary, "Mermaids: The New Evidence."
Dr. Schmidt ended up conducting his own investigation where he "took down two cameras on every dive, just in case we see them." Commenting on his footage, Dr. Schmidt said Jon Frankel, "well I looked at it, and knew I was looking into the face of another intelligent species, like us."
3. 2012 - Zimbabwe, Africa
Mermaids have been sighted on a number of occasions in Zimbabwe. It's claimed that efforts to complete the building of dams were delayed by mermaids. Apparently, mermaids had harassed the workers when installing water pumps. "All the officers I have sent have vowed not to go back there," Minister Nkomo was reported as saying in Zimbabwe's state-approved Herald newspaper.
"We even hired whites thinking that our boys did not want to work but they also returned saying they would not return to work there again," Nkomo added.
4. August 1991 - South Africa
About 30 percent of the remains of an unknown, humanlike creature were found in the belly of a dead great white shark in Southern Africa. The body was then examined and it was determined to have hands and a humanoid skull. A stingray barb was left jammed in the shark's jaws, and this is claimed to be a mermaid's weapon.
5. 1967 - British Columbia, Canada
A sighting occurred when tourists who were on a ferry saw a woman with the tail of a dolphin. She was described as having beautiful blonde hair and was seen eating salmon. It was reported in the Times-Colonist newspaper and drew a lot of attention, but no one has since spotted it again.
6. 1943 - Kei Islands, Indonesia
In 1943, at the time of World War II, several mermaids were spotted by Japanese soldiers on the shores of the Kei Islands in Indonesia. They reported seeing them swimming in the water, and one on the beach. A description of the one sighted on the beach is as follows: roughly 4-foot 9-inches (150 cm) tall, pinkish skin, human looking face and limbs, spikes along its head, and a mouth like a carp.
When Sgt. Taro Horiba heard news of a dead mermaid that was washed up on the shore, he went to examine it. After seeing it with his own eyes he was convinced. After his return to Japan, he urged scientists to go and study such mermaids, however his claims were turned down as they didn't believe him, hence no investigation was undertaken.
Locals refer to mermaids as Orang Ikan, or "fish people" in Malay. There have been several such sightings in the area, and apparently mermaids have been reportedly been caught in fishing nets on the odd occasion.
7. August 1886 - Cape Breton, Canada
This reported mermaid sighting from Canada in 1886 is quoted by zoologist Dr. Karl Shuker on his website. The report comes from the Cape Brooklyn Eagle newspaper in August, 1886.
"The fishermen of Gabarus, Cape Breton [an island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada], have been excited over the appearances of a mermaid, seen in the waters by some fishermen a few days ago. While Mr. Bagnall, accompanied by several fishermen, was out in a boat, they observed floating on the surface of the water a few yards from the boat what they supposed to be a corpse. Approaching it for the purpose of taking it ashore, they observed it to move, when to their great surprise, it turned around in a sitting position and looked at them and disappeared. A few moments after[,] it appeared on the surface and again looked toward them, after which it disappeared altogether. The face, head, shoulders and arms resembled those of a human being, but the lower extremities had the appearance of a fish. The back of its head was covered with long, dark hair resembling a horse's mane. The arms were shaped like a human being's, except that the fingers of one hand were very long. The color of the skin was not unlike that of a human being. There is no doubt, that the mysterious stranger is what is known as a mermaid, and the first one ever seen in Cape Breton waters."
8. June 1737 - Spain
Shuker quotes another newspaper report from Daily Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Maine, 24 June 1873:
"About the same time [c.1737] a story came from Virgo, in Spain, to the effect that some fishermen on that coast had caught a sort of a merman, five feet and a half from head to foot. The head was like that of a goat, with a long beard and moustache, a black skin, somewhat hairy, a very long neck, short arms, hands longer than they ought to be in proportion, and long fingers, with nails like claws; webbed toes, and a fin at the lower part of the back."
9. June 1608 - Henry Hudson Near Russia
Henry Hudson, explorer and discoverer of the Hudson River, records seeing a real mermaid near Russia. He wrote in his log: "Two crew members—Thomas Hilles and Robert Rayner—sighted a mermaid at 75° 7' N, and shouted at the rest of the crew to come and look." Hudson further recorded it as having a "tail of a porpoise and speckled like a mackerel."
10. January 1493 - Christopher Columbus's travels
Christopher Columbus has reported sighting mermaids whilst he was out at sea. He stated, "They were not as beautiful as they are painted, although to some extent they have a human appearance in the face...."