Mermaids have been a persistent part of a huge variety of cultures for at least the last 3,000 years. But are these strange creatures – half-human and half-fish – entirely mythical? Is there even a grain of truth to mermaid stories – or are they instead just a collection of fishy tales? Read on for ten reports of mermaids from across the ages and decide what you think.
10. Christopher Columbus
In 1492 Christopher Columbus set off westward from Spain to try to find a new trade route to the riches of Asia. However, as is widely documented, his expedition ended up in the Americas. Then, the following year, Columbus reported sighting mermaids off the coast of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
The explorer subsequently wrote in his journal that three “female forms” were spotted and that “they rose high out of the sea but were not as beautiful as they are represented.” And, in fact, the existence of mermaids was widely accepted at the time. However, modern researchers now believe the creatures that Columbus saw were most likely manatees – animals that the navigator probably had no knowledge of.