Mermaids didn’t always exist – at least not as we’re known now. We used to live as people of the sea, living in the water nearly as much as the land. We turned to the sea for our food, trade, and more. It was a simple but wonderful life, as some tell it. Our people kept to themselves, preferring the sea to outside tribes, and the sea returned our love. We fished with the dolphins, swam with the sharks, and oysters willingly gave us their pearls.
But everything changed that fateful day.
As legend tells it, our tribe was very protective of the sea and the secrets it shared. In order to protect those secrets, our elders passed a law that no one should find love or marriage outside of our tribe. It worked for many years, but as our trade business grew, some of the younger among our tribe began to fall in love with the young traders that would come. There were only a few at first, but soon there was a large group of our tribe that had fallen in love with outsiders.
The group banded together, fighting for their right to pursue love, but the elders fought back by punishing the group, locking them up and publicly flogging them. To the dismay of the elders, this did not stop the group of lovers, and they broke out of their prison, fleeing to the outside tribes for refuge with their lovers.
Fueled by anger and fear, the elders ordered that the rest of the tribe pursue the group, hunting and capturing them. After a few days, all of the lovers were rounded up, along with many of their companions. All of those captured were forced into the sea, and the elders ordered that none be allowed to return to land.
Their deaths were slow. The outsiders drowned first, not having the training that our tribe had received from birth. The rest, finally wearying of staying afloat, succumbed to the sea one by one.
As the last woman began to drown, a dolphin swam by, and seeing her distress, it tried to save her. The elders were angered by the dolphin, and they threw spears at it to run it away. One of the spears pierced the dolphin’s tail, and it cried out in pain, but it continued to try to help the drowning woman. Enraged, the elders threw more spears. One struck the dolphin’s side, while another plunged right into the woman’s heart.
Seeing the woman speared to death, the dolphin screamed, sounding eerily like a human – or so I’m told. Having nothing left to live for, the dolphin gave up and died, joining the dead bodies that floated along the shore. The elders forbade the people of the tribe to bury the bodies, including that of the dolphin, saying that their punishment wasn’t full until they were swallowed by the sea…
This story was inspired by the Animal Planet’s airing of Mermaids: The Body Found.