On May 27, 2012, Discovery’s Animal Planet channel aired Mermaids: The Body Found [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWE4g33dwdI]. The documentary featured video of a mermaid sighting in the Greenland Sea and an exclusive interview with former NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) scientist Dr. Paul Robertson.
The show followed a scientific team’s investigative efforts to uncover the source behind mysterious underwater recordings. It opened with video footage of a mermaid perched on a rock. Later in the program, a webbed hand touches the observation window of a submersible craft manned by a team of deep-sea divers. As the creature swims away, the divers catch glimpses of an alien-like face.
This program attracted the network’s biggest audience in its history: 1.9 million viewers.
A sequel broadcast, Mermaids: The New Evidence, aired May 26, 2013 and reached a record 3.6 million viewers. Its popularity drove the network to the number-one slot in the key demographic among 25-to-54-year-olds. After the broadcast, over 1.5 million streams of mermaid-related video surfaced online.
But not all is as it seems.
Both documentaries are hoaxes. In the closing credits, disclaimers flash briefly, claiming the programs are hoaxes. Actors played the part of scientists, and all video was digitally manufactured. NOAA released the following statement on their website: “Mermaids: The New Evidence is just entertainment. No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found.”
While some viewers were amused, many felt the network should have admitted the programs were speculative science fiction from the start. When confronted, Executive Producer Charlie Foley countered: “We wanted people to approach the story with a sense of possibility and a sense of wonder. Hopefully, that’s what Mermaids allowed viewers to do…allowed them to suspend their disbelief.”
When I browse through the nonfiction shelves of a library or bookstore, I expect to find well-researched and factual books. I would be disappointed if I read one of those books and found a disclaimer on the last page. And I would be horrified to discover that the “experts” lacked proper credentials.
If Mr. Foley had wanted to suspend belief, he could have started the documentaries (a word that suggests factual accounts) with a provocative comment/question like “Let’s Imagine…” or “What if…?”
Any thoughts…Please share in the Comments section.
On a slightly different note…
I’m hoping you will consider escaping into the fantasy mermaid world I have created. Pick up one (or both) of my mermaid novels, Between Land and Sea and The Coming of Arabella.
On Sale for 99c each – March 29 to April 4
Blurb – Between Land and Sea
After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged, weathered, and abandoned on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England. She faces her human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.
With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, she reinvents herself as a career counselor, motivational speaker, and writer of self-help books. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers. As Isabella evolves into Barbara Davies, she embraces her middle-aged body, heals her bruised heart, and learns to love again.
This contemporary version of The Little Mermaid offers hope and inspiration to anyone who has been dumped, deceived, or demoted. It will also appeal to mermaid enthusiasts.
Blurb – The Coming of Arabella
On the day of her engagement party, an ex-mermaid’s life is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of another mermaid—a sister she has never known. Under normal circumstances, Barbara Davies would be overjoyed, but her special day is already wrought with tension. While Barbara is not the first mermaid from the Mediterranean kingdom to settle in small town Ontario, she has yet to reveal her origins to her fiancé. So, when Arabella, the gorgeous sister whose disturbing black eyes banished her to the island of Crete, saunters into her life, clutching the arm of Barbara’s discarded lover, a powder keg of emotion is released.
Relationships falter and careers stall as envy stirs in the hearts of the sisters. On the verge of meltdown after her fiancé leaves Canada for a teaching job in Vermont, Barbara flees to Arizona hoping for a reprieve. There, she finds solace at a retreat for ex-mermaids and a second chance at love with a charismatic preacher. As she contemplates a new life in the desert paradise of Sedona, shocking secrets emerge and tragedy strikes. A stronger and wiser Barbara rises up to face these new challenges and embrace the best parts of her mermaid heritage.
A member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime, Joanne Guidoccio writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
Where to find me…