While most of the nation was celebrating this week, NOAA released an official statement: there is no evidence for living aquatic humanoids:
(NOAA) Mermaids — those half-human, half-fish sirens of the sea — are legendary sea creatures chronicled in maritime cultures since time immemorial. The ancient Greek epic poet Homer wrote of them in The Odyssey. In the ancient Far East, mermaids were the wives of powerful sea-dragons, and served as trusted messengers between their spouses and the emperors on land. The aboriginal people of Australia call mermaids yawkyawks– a name that may refer to their mesmerizing songs.
The belief in mermaids may have arisen at the very dawn of our species. Magical female figures first appear in cave paintings in the late Paleolithic (Stone Age) period some 30,000 years ago, when modern humans gained dominion over the land and, presumably, began to sail the seas. Half-human creatures, called chimeras, also abound in mythology — in addition to mermaids, there were wise centaurs, wild satyrs, and frightful minotaurs, to name but a few. But are mermaids real? No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found.
It’s not completely clear why NOAA did this. Some articles have suggested a recent documentary on the legend was mistaken by some viewers for a documentary on the extant creatures. As far as I can see it’s harmless, the information is completely valid, and there might good scientific intentions behind it. Which is to say mermaids clearly do not have a billionaire patron or play a part in other, better defended fables.