In last week’s post, I focused on mermaid sightings before 1800. Today, I will share selected sightings between 1800 and 2000. I have omitted any possible manatee sightings and hoaxes.
During Manatee Awareness Month (November), I will devote a post to those slow-moving, blubbery sea cows that are often mistaken for mermaids.
1811: John McIsaac of Scotland testified under oath that he saw an animal that had a white, upper half with the shape of a human body and lower half covered with scales and a tail. He judged the creature to be between four and five feet long. He noted its long, light brown hair and fingers close together. An article in the London Mirror, included the following testimonial: “The Minister of Campbeltown and the Chamberlain of Mull attest his examination and declare that they know no reason why his veracity should be questioned.”
1830: When villagers at Benbecula (Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland) sighted a small woman on shore, they tried but failed to capture her. They then decided to pelt her with rocks. Several days later, her corpse washed ashore. The following description appeared in the publication Hidden Animals: “The upper part of the body was about the size of a well-developed child of three or four years of age, with an abnormally developed breast. The hair was long, dark, and glossy, while the skin was white, soft, and tender. The lower part of the body was like a salmon but without scales.”
1857: The Shipping Gazette reported the following sighting by Scottish seamen, John Williamson and John Cameron, off the coast of Britain: “We distinctly saw an object about six yards distant from us in the shape of a woman, with full breast, dark complexion, comely face, and fine hair hanging in ringlets over the neck and shoulders. It was about the surface of the water to about the middle, gazing at us and shaking its head. The weather being fine, we had a full view of it and that for three or four minutes.”
1886: The first mermaid sighting in Cape Breton (island off the coast of Nova Scotia) captured the attention of the local townspeople and was featured in the Cape Brooklyn Eagle Newspaper: “The fishermen of Gabarus, Cape Breton have been excited over the appearances of a mermaid…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.”
1943: Several mermaids were spotted by Japanese soldiers off the shores of the Kei Islands in Indonesia. One mermaid was actually sighted on the beach, giving the soldiers ample opportunity to provide the following description: roughly 4-foot 9-inches tall, pinkish skin, human looking face and limbs, spikes along its head, and mouth like a carp. Later, Sgt. Taro Horiba heard the news of a dead mermaid on shore and decided to investigate. He urged scientists to study mermaids but failed to convince the scientific community.
1991: About 30 percent of the remains of an unknown, human-like creature were found in the belly of a dead great white shark in South Africa. Upon examination, it was determined that the creature had hands and a humanoid skull. The researchers suggested that the stingray barb jammed in the shark’s jaw could be a mermaid’s weapon.