For a fascinating look inside the professional merfolk community, CNN visited the 2016 N.C. Mermania convention, in Greensboro, interviewing participants about their unusual careers. Mermaids, mermen and merchildren face several challenges at work: diving up to 15 feet deep and holding their breath for as long as three minutes, all while keeping their eyes wide open and smiling widely.
Hannah Fraser, one of the 200 mermaids, mermen and merchildren attending NC Mermania, works in “eco-art-activism,” featuring in videos such as Manta’s Last Dance in which she swims tail-clad – sometimes with real fish around her. Shannon Rauch, another attendee at NC Mermania, joined the community in search of alternative exercise. When she learned that she could make money from her new hobby, she started teaching swimming classes to children, and can now charge $250 for a two-hour appearance. Mermen, such as Christian O’Brocki, are working on getting men more involved in the mer-community.
Marla Spellenberg, a mermaid from 1969 to 1972, worries about the safety of those whose involvement escalates too fast. She emphasizes the importance of the right training before a mermaid jumps to tail swimming. But despite the dangers, Fraser says that her profession allows her to convey her love for the ocean to the world and help humans get over their fear of the water.
Read the full story at CNN.