Mermaids are a hot topic, thanks in part to a fake documentary that re-aired on the Discovery Channel Sunday night.
The online reactions imply that the two-hour program, entitled "Mermaids: The Body Found," befuddled viewers. Though fake, the show's documentary-style production led many to question whether what they were watching was some kind of scientific proof that Ariel was the real deal.
The network promoted the show with this teasing statement: "What if there's a kernel of truth behind the legend of this mythic creature? Is the idea of mermaids really so far-fetched? Maybe so, maybe not. The show itself, though science fiction, is based on some real events and scientific theory." In one memorable faux-scene, a boy and his friend appear to discover a mermaid-type creature washed up on a deserted beach. Fear not – the scene was staged.
'... and manatees, the sea creatures often mistaken for mermaids (Comstock)So, to be clear, mermaids aren't real (though manatees are often mistaken for them). The searches on Yahoo! were, nevertheless, quite impressive. Queries for "mermaids the body found" surged 85% and related look-ups on "are mermaids real" (answer: no) surged 93% over the course of 24 hours. The curious and confused also searched for "real mermaids sightings," pushing the term up 61%.
What's even more impressive about the search spikes is that this wasn't the first time the program aired. Sunday's "documentary" was actually a repeat. It originally aired in May on Animal Planet and caused a similar stir online. So much so that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a government agency, released a statement saying, "No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found."
But just because mermaids aren't real, that doesn't mean you can't look like one. Mermaid fins are one of the summer's hottest looks around the pool. Hop to the bathroom in them at your own risk.
Watch a clip from "Mermaids: The Body Found" right here: