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September 20, 2017

Recreational Mermaids with a Mission

Written by Kylie Barton

No, we aren’t making this up. Recreational mermaiding is actually a thing. It sounds pretty awesome alone, but when coupled with the fact that these mermaids are combating climate change, it is simply mind blowing.

Professional mermaids have found themselves at the centre of one of Australia’s fiercest political debates. Young people are changing what it means to take part in recreational mermaiding, and giving the magical past time new depth, and new meaning.

The pastime has grown in popularity over the past few years, which means the all-important uni-fins required for the activity have come down in price, making the hobby more accessible to all. It started as a fun way to work out – much like the various yoga’s sweeping the globe (goat, beer, dog). It adds another facet to the already liberating experience of free diving. It helps you feel even more at home in the water, and understand what it feels like to swim the same way as some of the magnificent mammals in the waters around you. More and more mermaids however, are doing it for the love of these creatures and the oceans they call home, to help conserve the ecosystems on which they depend.

Climate change is having a particularly visible and tangible impact in Australia, with the gradual but notable death of over half of the Great Barrier Reef in the past year and a half. This however, is the very thing that has spurred numerous young women into action. Some come from the Aquarium of Western Australia where they perform as mermaids as a form of art, fitness, and wellbeing. They claim to be able to give the ocean a voice through their work. They use their alter-egos to help children understand the perils of the sea, and what we can do to help save it. They regularly hold conversations with their audiences about coral bleaching, informing them about the intricacies of the living organism, and how they are the cornerstone of the global ocean ecosystem.

It is unfathomable to think that climate change is still such a divisive issue in Australia, with these visible impacts so close to home. The people and the politicians are polarised, and it is through innovative projects such as this that the masses can be educated and be inspired to put pressure on those who can enact change. UNESCO recently decided to leave the Great Barrier Reef off of its ‘in danger’ list, which the centre-right government very much rejoiced. There is a long way to go in the country in terms of taking the issue seriously, and so here at Island Spirit we very much applaud all efforts, large and small. Environmentalists, of course, were appalled at this, and are deeply concerned that this downplays the responsibility of Australians in tackling the issue.

An example of this ignoring of the issue is the plans for Australia to build its biggest ever coal mine in the Queensland Galilee Basin which will resultantly increase the industrial traffic in the boat lanes around the reef. Increased industrial vessel traffic will unavoidably increase ocean pollution, and further escalate the damage to the Great Barrier Reef.  This is a fact that is being loudly ignored by all parties involved. Therefore, the mermaids have taken it upon themselves to stand up for the seas. The very word mermaid means water servant; they are the protectors of the ocean in mythology so why not in real life too?

Come volunteer in paradise with like-minded responsible travelers and fellow mermaids that want to do good and protect out planet! Click on the link for our 2018 trips.