There are many flavors of mermaid fans. There’s the Disney contingent that sees the carton version as a fishtailed princess. There’s the movie bunch that sees them as beautiful beings who always bring a romantic ending to a human-mermaid relationship. There are the traditionalists who know the legends of sailors lured by what appear to be beautiful half-fish who are either lured to their deaths or forced to make up stories when they realize the object of their infatuation was a manatee. Then there are those dedicated believers in Africa whose culture or relgion sees mermaids as evil creatures guarding gold and willing to kill to protect their treasures or their lairs. That’s the group we’re dealing with today as a video is making the rounds of what appears to be a young mermaid allegedly caught by fishermen – possibly in Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa but maybe Kenya. Take a look at the video here and let’s see if we can figure this one out.
“Real Mermaid Caught in Muizenberg South Africa.”
It seems the first posting of this video on TikTok came from @aamircali. The video spread quickly on social media, media sites in Africa, and eventually around the world. For those who need evidence, the full video on YouTube is of high quality, extremely sad and somewhat pathetic. It appears to show a young mermaid – while referred to as a mermaid, its sex is indeterminable from the video. The ‘creature’ is surrounded by men who poke at it to make it move – while the eyes never open, the arms and fins flail as if it’s alive. That occurs during the entire two-minute video, which ends with seemingly no explanation nor resolution. The men don’t seem to be afraid, so this could be a hoax or they’re just not aware of the killer mermaid tales in South Africa, Zimbabwe and surrounding areas.
“Reports indicating that a mermaid has been spotted in Kwale are fake, police say.”
In fact, we’re not even sure if the video was made in South Africa -- @ntvkenya reported the mermaid being in Kwale or Ukanda, two towns in Kwale county on the southeastern coast of Kenya bordering Tanzania. If you’re looking to be skeptical about the ‘mermaid’, there are plenty of opportunities, starting with @aamircali, the original TikTok poster. He seems to be a collector of mermaid videos – some curiously realistic, some obviously fake and some in the “Hmmm” category. The one in question, if it’s a fake, is well done. However, the lack of details and no visuals of its ‘catching’ or what was done with it call its validity into question.
“A spokesperson said: “Please note that Muizenberg SAPS has no reports of a mermaid that was washed by the beach nor reports of a child bitten by a fish.””
The fine folks at Snopes contacted the South African Police Service in Muizenberg and they had no reports of mermaids or giant fish attacking a child – which was one theory proposed on social media. Snopes investigators magnified the video and say one can see the sand lose texture and the fingers disappear – indicating digital alteration … possibly the joining of videos of a beached fish and a child. However, for those who truly want to believe, Snopes left an opening by only saying that the video had been “Miscaptioned.”
If you’ve watched the video and are still a mermaid believer, you’re not alone. There are museums devoted to mermaid memorabilia, mermaid fakes and possible mermaid evidence. There are real scientific researchers studying alleged mermaid corpses. Stories of killings, kidnappings and attacks by mermaids are reported by the African media, particularly in Zimbabwe, frequently enough to be compared to Bigfoot sightings in the U.S. – leading more to believe that it’s mermaids or something similarly strange.
The needle on this writer’s Skeptic Meter is unwavering in the ‘hoax’ quadrant. Let's hope no one, especially a child, was harmed in the making of this video. Watch it again. What do YOU think?