Last year around this time, some guy claimed to have found the lost city of Atlantis on Google Earth. A British aeronautical engineer was playing around with the new Google Earth 5.0, which includes undersea data, and noticed something funny off the coast of Africa, about 600 miles west of the Canary Islands. It shows a rectangular grid with what looks like roadways leading away from it at the coordinates 31 15'15.53N 24 15'30.53W.
Google was quick to dismiss his claims. They claimed "what users are seeing is an artifact of the data collection process," Google said. "Bathymetric (or seafloor terrain) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the seafloor. The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data."
In case you've been living under a rock for your entire life, Atlantis is a legendary island mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias that supposedly sank 9,000 years before Plato was born, "in a single day and night of misfortune". Basically ever since Plato wrote the story of Atlantis down scholars have been debating the realness of it. My personal belief is that Atlantis was really Santorini, a small greek island that was partially sunk by a volcano around 1645—1600 BC. Plato was either confused or attempting to turn the story into a morality tale. He probably added the fantastical elements to draw the reader in.
Originally Atlantis was believed to have great scientific knowledge far ahead of anywhere else at that time. Dolphins were more often associated with Atlantis than mermaids in the past whereas today Atlantis is often associated with Poseidon/Neptune and mermaids. In most of these stories after sinking Atlantis became home to merpeople. DC comics character Aquaman lives in a neighboring city to Atlantis while Lori Lemaris (Superman's one time girlfriend) is from Atlantis. There is a mermaids of Atlantis game and an expansion pack to the game Zeus where you build Atlantis for Poseidon. Even on the Spongebob show, Atlantis is the capitol of the sea and where the merman King Neptune resides.
My favorite "take" on this is the Futurama episode The Deep South. In the episode the crew's ship is dragged underwater where Fry meets and dates a mermaid named Umbriel. Instead of being from Atlantis, it turns out the merpeople are from the fabled lost city of Atlanta (that's where this site gets its name.) This episode is HILARIOUS! It's chock full of really great under sea moments and southern stereotypes. I won't spoil it for y'all, but one of my favorite scenes is of Dr. Zoidberg doing a little gardening by his new house!
Tomorrow I'll post the tale of Atlantis as related in the Encyclopedia of things that never were.
Say not the mermaid is a myth, I knew one once named Mrs. Smith. She stood while playing cards or knitting: Mermaids are not equipped for sitting.
'We shall see, while above us
The waves roar and whirl,
A ceiling of amber,
A pavement of pearl.
Singing, 'Here came a mortal,
But faithless was she:
And alone dwell for ever
The kings of the sea.'
Afred Lord Tennyson
I would be a mermaid fair; I would sing to myself the whole of the day; With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair; And still as I comb’d I would sing and say, “Who is it loves me? who loves not me?” I would comb my hair till my ringlets would fall, Low adown, low adown, From under my starry sea-bud crown Low adown and around, And I should look like a fountain of gold Springing alone With a shrill inner sound, Over the throne In the midst of the hall; Till that great sea-snake under the sea From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps Would slowly trail himself sevenfold Round the hall where I sate, and look in at the gate With his large calm eyes for the love of me. And all the mermen under the sea Would feel their immortality Die in their hearts for the love of me.
The straightforward mermaid starts every sentence with “Look . . . ” This comes from being raised in a sea full of hooks. She wants to get points 1, 2, and 3 across, doesn’t want to disappear like a river into the ocean. When she’s feeling despairing, she goes to eddies at the mouth of the river and tries to comb the water apart with her fingers. The straightforward mermaid has already said to five sailors, “Look, I don’t think this is going to work,” before sinking like a sullen stone. She’s supposed to teach Rock Impersonation to the younger mermaids, but every beach field trip devolves into them trying to find shells to match their tail scales. They really love braiding. “Look,” says the straightforward mermaid. “Your high ponytails make you look like fountains, not rocks.” Sometimes she feels like a third gender—preferring primary colors to pastels, the radio to singing. At least she’s all mermaid: never gets tired of swimming, hates the thought of socks.
A word about the Images
Many of the images I've used on this blog have been found over years and years of looking at mermaids (plenty are my own though.) I've asked for permission for most but occasionally I don't remember the source. If you find an image here posted that you don't want up (due to your hard work scanning or drawing it) please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You are watching live video of the "Ocean Voyager" exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga.