For some reason, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that a non-existent species does, in fact, not exist (mermaids), and all I can say is I’m glad I didn’t have to write the following copy with a straight face:
The belief in mermaids may have arisen at the very dawn of our species. Magical female figures first appear in cave paintings in the late Paleolithic (Stone Age) period some 30,000 years ago, when modern humans gained dominion over the land and, presumably, began to sail the seas. Half-human creatures, called chimeras, also abound in mythology — in addition to mermaids, there were wise centaurs, wild satyrs, and frightful minotaurs, to name but a few.
But are mermaids real? No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists.
Frankly, had I been given the job, I’d have been forced to write “Unlike Unicorns, no evidence of aquatic mermaids has ever been found (and this despite the deployment of our entire field staff to the recent spring break hotspots in order to conduct a thorough search).”
Then again, this is probably why I don’t thrive in bureaucratic environments.
Keep writing (about mermaids if you have to), Tom Chandler.