I’m a “real” mermaid. I swim, I dive, I twirl and jive. A lot of you asked me what this whole mermaid-ing thing is about, this is the story of my fishy business.
When swimming, diving and life-saving instructor Dolphin Lee sought my help to establish a mermaid school in Malaysia, I saw an opportunity that extends beyond commercial gains. This was a chance to pursue a cause I truly believe in.
As a diver myself, I took to water easily. The mermaid tail felt like a second skin against my thighs; the fins fit my feet like a glove. It’s not easy being a mermaid- your legs are bound, your eyes are blinded, you silence your body’s desperate calls for air, all while looking magical at the same time. Under Mr. Lee’s guidance, I earned my tail.
But there was a bigger mission behind the glamour and all that jazz. I wanted it to be more than just looking pretty and half-naked in a fish suit.
Malaysia is the highest consumer of seafood in South East Asia, and with the way our fishermen trawl the seas, we could easily run out of seafood in 40 years. Shark finning, the consumption of turtle eggs, plastic pollution, these unsustainable practices are emptying our seas of its abundance, fast. Marine life face a slight disadvantage when it comes calls for conservation and human treatment, they are not as fluffy as pandas, not as cute as puppies; they are cold, slimy, weird looking, and sometimes scary. Fishes don’t scream. If dogs are abused, they squeal and yelp. We forget that they feel pain too.
I saw a chance to give marine life a voice by using the mermaid persona as ambassadors of the ocean. Hence, The Mermaid Mission, a social venture to champion marine conservation, was born. Combining Mr. Lee’s connections and my know-how in marketing and communication, we successfully established Malaysia’s first qualified mermaid team with a passion for the ocean.
In December 2013, The Mermaid Mission participated in Aquaria KLCC’s Save Our Fin’s Christmas Programme. Throughout the month, I had so much fun diving in the aquarium alongside sharks, turtles, eels, rays and other fishes to show people that sharks are actually harmless, solitary creatures.
I’ve had many girls running up to me eyes sparkling with excitement at the sight of a ‘real’ mermaid. “Can I be a mermaid too?” Their innocent little voice pipes up. “Of course, you can be a mermaid. Did you know that sharks have been around for more than 400 million years? But, they might go extinct soon.”
As The Mermaid Mission continues to grow, I hope to continue to use fantasy of mermaids to spread a little more love for our fishy friends.
Mei Mei Chu did not give Ursula her voice to swap her legs for fins. Mermaid Mei Mei is a budding mermaid interested in wildlife & marine conservation projects. Contact her here. More on The Mermaid Mission here and on Dolphin Lee Aquatic here.