Mermaid popularity ebbs and flows through the years, but the job also fluctuates from week to week. While it's estimated that the average salary for a professional mermaid in the U.S. is $47,000, professional mermaids may work an irregular, event-to-event basis, with rates varying from the odd hourly appearance at a few birthday parties to an extended tour through a premiere resort [source: Simply Hired]. In 2013, for example, mermaids performing at Weeki Wachee earned between $10 and $13 an hour for their performances [source: Sole-Smith].
But salary isn't what motivates most mermaids; many professional mermaids consider themselves ambassadors of the ocean. When their underwater performance and eco-activism spirit combine, mermaids bring us a unique form of "edutainment." Professional mermaid Linden Wolbert, for example, produces a series called "Mermaid Minute," an educational program aimed at teaching kids about how the ocean works and how to protect our waters and the creatures who call them home.
There is no formal training needed to become a professional mermaid, although some types of mermaiding may require special certifications, such as dive certification, or special insurance, such as performers insurance (for mermaids who work as independent contractors). Additionally, some professional mermaids are opening academies and camps to help fulfill the dreams of those wishing to try mermaiding themselves.
In 2011, Katrin Felton, a certified freediver and scuba and skin diving instructor began educating her dive students about marine conservation, and she transformed into her alter ego Mermaid Kat. A year later Kat opened a mermaid academy, a traveling workshop of sorts. Launched in Phuket, Thailand, her academy has also trained mermaids in Indonesia and the Philippines. Here, aspiring mermaids learn the tricks of King Triton's daughters, from how to freedive to how to be a successful underwater model. In addition, mer-students also learn the importance of eco-activism and the significance of the health and diversity of our oceans.
Author's Note: How Professional Mermaids Work
There's a big drawback to the professional mermaid lifestyle, and perhaps not what you would first guess: cold water. The human body is most comfortable in water that's about 84 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (28.9 to 30 degrees Celsius). Bermuda's average ocean water temperature may come close to those temperatures during the summertime, but that's not the case for many popular swim spots. Coastal water temperatures in San Diego, California – considered one of the best, if not the best, places for a mermaid to live -- never gets much warmer than 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).
More Great Links
- Gray, Emma. "Linden Wolbert, Mermaid, Shares The Key To Being A Professional 'Mermaid To The Stars' (PHOTOS)." April 5, 2013. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/03/linden-wolbert-mermaid_n_3009244.html
- Hannah Mermaid. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://www.hannahfraser.com/mermaid/
- Mermaid Kat. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://underwatermodel.info/come-to-mermaid-kats-mermaid-academy/
- Mermaids in Motion. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://www.mermaidsinmotion.com/
- National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC). "Water Temperature Table of All Coastal Regions." (Jan. 4, 2015) http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/cwtg/all_meanT.html
- Newcomb, Tim. "German Diver Sets Breath-Holding Record: 22 Minutes, 22 Seconds." Time. June 5, 2012. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/06/05/german-diver-sets-breath-holding-record-22-minutes-22-seconds
- Nickum, Ryan. "13 Best U.S. Cities for Mermaids to Live." Estately Blog. July 23, 2013. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://blog.estately.com/2013/07/13-best-u-s-cities-for-mermaids-to-live/
- Palmer, Brian. "How Long Can You Hold Your Breath?" Slate. Nov. 13, 2013. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/explainer/2013/11/nicholas_mevoli_freediving_death_what_happens_to_people_who_practice_holding.html
- Parkes, Gwen. "For the Love of Water: A Real-Life Mermaid." Aol. July 9, 2010. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2010/07/09/mermaid-padi/
- Schiller, Jakob. "Professional Mermaids Are Lost Treasure of Florida Park." Wired. April 20, 2012. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://www.wired.com/2012/04/professional-mermaids-are-lost-treasure-of-florida-park/
- SimplyHired. "Average Professional Mermaid Salaries." (Jan. 4, 2015) http://www.simplyhired.com/salaries-k-professional-mermaid-jobs.html
- Sole-Smith, Virginia. "The Last Mermaid Show." The New York Times. July 5, 2013. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/magazine/the-last-mermaid-show.html
- Spitznagel, Eric. "Odd Jobs: Professional Mermaid." BloombergBusinessweek. April 3, 2012. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-03/odd-jobs-professional-mermaid
- The People's History. "The Year 1947." (Jan. 4, 2015) http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1947.html
- United States Water Fitness Association (USWFA). "Suggested Swimming Pool Temperatures." (Jan. 4, 2015) http://www.uswfa.com/suggested_pool_temps.asp
- Worrall, Simon. "Free Diving World Record Will Soon Be Pushed to 1,000 Feet, Author Says." National Geographic. Aug. 10, 2014. (Jan. 4, 2015) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140810-free-diving-sperm-whales-jules-verne-reunion-booktalk