There is little more mysterious on our beautiful planet than the depths of the sea and the sunken worlds of the oceans. The tectonic plates of the arctic ocean open up a gap to show a particularly fascinating realm to the boldest of divers. There are exotic deeps with a width of tropical corals and reefs, gleaming in sapphire and pastel and neon. And below the surfaces of our majestic and solemn seas unfolds a truly breathtaking world (see what I did here?) of fabulous aquatic plants and the most mysterious of creatures. The deeper you go, the more enigmatic the water worlds appear, and they rarely unveil their secrets. We hear of the giant kraken, translucent fish out of nightmares, and serpents and leviathans with blind eyes and three rows of teeth.
One of the most fascinating creatures we tell stories about is, of course, the mermaid. A cryptid with the tail of fish and the upper body of a human, mostly with the looks of a stunning young woman. Tales of the mermaids are among the oldest of all time and appear since the Mesopotamian era, and from the Babylonian period onwards, inspiring Hans Christian Andersen and other poets to write their famous tales. Their cousins appear in almost every folklore of cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Mostly they come with a curse or a tearjerking tale of love and loss — and punishment.
All these mer-men, marrows, nixies, undines and water sprites come in more shapes and forms than your average sushi buffed, so t’is quite strange that only few movies and small screen endeavours dare to go astray from the ordinary sparkling fish lady with the long waving hair, and create their own version of a mermaid. Inspiration surely is rich once you start reading about all these daughters of Nereus, the nereids, nymphs and water sprites.
So let’s move on from Aquamarine, Madison and Ariel — sorry, favourite sea maidens! — and dive just a little bit deeper to explore ten wonderfully eerie and certainly unique mermaid designs brought onto the screen.