20 True Stories Of Mermaid Encounters Throughout History

When we think of mermaids, we categorize them the same way we do Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, or even paranormal entities. Most of us have never seen them with our own eyes, so quite frankly, it’s difficult to believe they exist.

However, maybe we shouldn’t discount their existence. Over the course of history, there were many reported stories of run-ins with creatures who very closely resembled mermaids. But, were they? Only you can be the judge after reading these experiences…

1. In 2012, construction crews who were building dams in Zimbabwe refused to finish the project because they claimed a group of mermaids, known to locals at the “mamba muntu,” were viciously harassing them.

2. Long ago during the first century, Pliny the Elder wrote Natural History where he described in great detail a species of half-fish, half human creatures he called “nereids.” Pliny claimed Emperor Augustus had a military officer who saw piles of dead nereid bodies on the shore.

3. In 1493 Christopher Columbus claimed to have encountered three mermaids off the coast of Haiti. He wrote in a journal that they “rose out of the sea; but they are not so beautiful as they are said to be, for their faces had some masculine traits.”

4. During the 1500s, sailors used to collect these miniature mermaid-like skeletons they called “Jenny Hanivers” and sell them to tourists. For centuries, people saw this as definitive proof mermaids were real. 

5. In 1430, a group of girls in the Netherlands found a sick mermaid in the shallow waters. According to the group, they pulled the struggling sea creature to land and dressed her in clothing.

6. Explorer John Smith apparently fell for a mermaid he saw off the coast of Newfoundland in 1614. However, as she was slowly coming out of the water staring at Smith, he realized she was half fish, and he quickly got over his crush.

7. Off the coast of Pendine, Wales, in 1603, a farmer named Thomas Raynold spotted what he believed to be a mermaid swimming close to shore. An image depicting the Welsh mermaid describes her as a “monstrous fish that appeared in the form of a woman from her waist upward.”

8. In 1967 ferry riders in British Columbia spotted a blond woman with the tail of a porpoise resting on the shore of Mayne Island. The town locals offered a cash reward for more information, but no one came forward. 

9.  In 2014, the body of a humanoid creature with aquatic features that washed up on the shores of New Zealand’s South Island caused quite a stir. Was it a hoax or the real deal?

10. In the Netherlands in the 1600s, an injured mermaid was nursed back to health by a group of people, but instead of returning to the ocean, she supposedly learned to speak Dutch and converted to Catholicism. 

11. The Newark Bay near Deerness, Scotland, became a hot-spot for one particular mermaid sighting in 1890. People claimed a seven-foot-tall human-like creature with a tail would climb onto the shore’s rocks at night. 

12. In most pictures and movies, mermaids are depicted as beautiful women with soft skin, alluring eyes, and long flowing hair. However, one thirteenth-century Norwegian manuscript described these creatures as horrific harbingers of doom.

13. In 1718, an artist named Samuel Fallours painted this picture of a tiny mermaid he claimed he caught with his own hands and brought back into his house. He said the mermaid lived in a container of water, but died after four days because she refused to eat.

14. There is a temple located in Fukuoka, Japan, that supposedly houses the remains of a mermaid who washed up in 1222. A priest preserved the bones, and they’ve been on display for nearly 800 years.

15. In 2009, people from the Israeli town of Kiryat Yam claimed to see a beautiful young woman with the body of a fish performing tricks at night on the shore. The town council even offered one million dollars for any hard evidence of her existence. To this day, no one has come forward.

16.  In 1830, a body of a mermaid who was killed by a thrown rock washed up on the shore of Benbecula, an island off of Scotland. The townsfolk buried the tiny body on the shoreline, but no one has ever been able to find it.

17. In 1608, explorer Henry Hudson wrote in a journal that while sailing in the Bering Sea near Norway, he saw a group of white-skinned and black haired mermaids surround his boat.

18. Manatees, from a distance, can strangely resemble many of the mermaids described in some historical accounts. Someone standing on the deck of a ship might easily mistake the creature for the mythical mermaid.

19. During World War II, a group of Japanese soldiers spotted a small humanoid figure with the mouth of a carp and spikes on its head playing in lagoons on the Kei Islands of Indonesia. The natives told them it was an entity known as “orang ikan,” which translated to “human fish”! 

20. A group of friends who were camping near a river in South Africa in 2008 reported seeing the Kaaiman, crying on the shore. The people of South Africa claim that this legendary mermaid lures victims underwater.

Unfortunately, while the stories above are true according to the people who experienced them, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration definitively states “no evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found.”

It might be difficult to truly believe most of these stories, but who knows? There’s still so much of the ocean left to explore…

Share these mermaid sightings with your skeptical friends below!