Mermaids

Oct. 30th, 2009 02:00 pm
lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Genre: Fantasy)
[personal profile] lea_hazel posting in [community profile] fantasy
More about non-human characters in fantasy, because it's my current fixation.

I've been thinking a lot about mammalian mermaids, especially since finding these two pieces of art of manatee mermaids. You cannot google for this sort of thing easily, because it turns up results about the theory that manatees breastfeeding their young were the source for the myth of the mermaid, and every single one has the same joke about how the sailors must have been mighty drunk.

Given this line of thought, I've been wondering, with which marine mammal is it best to cross a human to get an interesting mermaid? Seals? Spotted-skin, predatory mermaids with puppy-dog eyes. Dolphin? Curved-spine, greyish mermaids who frolick in the seas, do tricks for fun, and apparently bludgeon other animals to death for fun (disclaimer: Cracked.com hates dolphins with fervor).

Whale mermaid? I'm having difficulty picturing this one, actually. Manatee mermaid? As seen above, an herbivorous mermaid who flourishes in fresh water, has a healthy layer of blubber, and whose hands might be hidden beneath paddling flippers. Not exactly the Little Mermaid. Walrus mermaid? That might be pretty awesome. Otter mermaid? Hey, it's still technically a marine mammal, but then, so is a polar bear.

In non-mammal mermaids, this artist has a whole gallery full of mermaids based on the fish in her fish tank. Very detailed and intriguing, and highly recommended. I've also seen octopus mermaids, which are sometimes called sea-witches, or cecaelia.

Date: 2009-10-30 02:58 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pippin
Dolphins are horrific violent rapist fuckers! I do not want to see a version of them with opposable thumbs. D:

Now... penguin-based mermaids...

Date: 2009-10-30 03:08 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pippin
A world where there are multiple species of sentient aquatic species could be pretty interesting, though I'd probably want some kind of magic involved - I don't know if I could accept such advanced convergent evolution.

Haha, just imagine the fun mythical creatures they could have! A cryptozoologist mermaid would painstakingly accrue drunken sightings of pliosaurs, clam-men, Big Flipper.

Date: 2009-10-31 03:16 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pippin
Ursula is my second-favourite Disney villain. :D

Date: 2009-11-05 11:56 pm (UTC)
foxfirefey: Fox stealing an egg. (Default)
From: [personal profile] foxfirefey
Who is the first!

Date: 2009-11-17 11:39 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pippin
Scar!

Date: 2009-10-30 08:15 pm (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
Cracked.com is right about dolphins...but oh god, they're so CUTE. Watching a whole pod of them swimming around your ship is just amazing, no matter how many times it happens. Evil fuckers.

I would be totally down with seal and dolphin mermaids, although you might as well go all out on the first and just go with selkies. Sea lion mermaids would be more terrifying on land (I'm envisioning 1-ton sea lion bulls with opposable thumbs...oh dear).

I've been trying to draw goldfish mermaids for a while. Chubby, red-haired, and possibly a bit bug-eyed. And eel mermaids.

Date: 2009-10-30 10:17 pm (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
Sea lions are way more mobile on land than seals--that's part of what makes them kind of scary! (I've been swimming with young ones, and they're pretty safe--but still made me a little nervous, because they swim SO MUCH BETTER than you and also have lots of sharp teeth.) Seal and sea lion mermaids would be really near-sighted in air. It might make them nervous.

Date: 2009-10-30 08:48 pm (UTC)
jess: underwater sculpture of a woman rising from the sea floor (Default)
From: [personal profile] jess
Oh, thanks for posting this! I made a bunch of mermaid notes during my marine biology class, but I put them away during finals and forgot to take another look at them.

I love the idea of seal mermaids (as a different beastie than selkies). I also had a bunch of ideas for whale mermaids, which usually end up with cetacean features but on a much smaller scale. Orca mermaids would be marvelously sleek with those striking black and white markings, playful and vicious. I've envisioned mers based on humpbacked whales singing as they cast bubble nets (handheld rather than created through flutterings of the blowhole) around their prey. My favorite whale-maid is bsed on the narwhal, already a visual combination of whale and unicorn. I'm also very partial to mermaid morphologies based on sharks and rays.

Good luck, and maybe we'll get to see what you come up with!

Date: 2009-10-30 10:29 pm (UTC)
jess: underwater sculpture of a woman rising from the sea floor (Default)
From: [personal profile] jess
Yep, the narwhal tusk is a modified tooth which is most likely a secondary sexual characteristic, but I kind of figure that if we're positing mermaids, it's just as easy to posit moving the tusk to the forehead.

I love your dugong-style mermaids!

Date: 2011-05-25 01:59 am (UTC)
krait: a sea snake (krait) swimming (Default)
From: [personal profile] krait
I am leaning towards dugong-style mermaids who live in estuaries, create floating houses anchored to rock outcroppings, feed off kelp and sea grass

Cute!

For years I've wanted to see someone do a mermaid species (art or fiction) based on that pink freshwater dolphin species from the Amazon. :D Because the whole "dolphins are jerks!" thing is only true of one known species, and it's not fair to tar the rest of the clade with the babykiller label. Just avoid the bottlenoses!

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