Monday, August 11, 2014

All About Monofins

*This article is mostly written based on reviews I've heard/read from other mermaids. Much of the information is taken from The Official Monofin Thread on Mernetwork. I've rearranged it a bit and added some info.

**All prices are in USD don't include shipping.

Monofins are the fin in the bottom of most mermaid tails. They provide the propulsion for mermaid swimming. They are a single (mono) fin with a dual foot pocket. These fins were made for fast and lengthy swimming- mostly for freediving. Instead of kicking like you do with dual fins, the monofins use a core "body roll" motion for the propelling force, like a dolphin kick. It is a fluid motion that concentrates more around your abs and not your legs- this movement is not only very mermaid-like, but is a very efficient one.

Monofins can be made from a few different materials- mainly polyethelene, fiberglass, carbon, or lexan. The more stiff the material is, the faster propulsion you can achieve with the fin. However, stiffer fins can pose a problem by poking through tail materials. A few tail makers refuse to incorporate stiffer fins into their tails due to the fins' tendency to create holes in the fluke.

Commercial Monofins

The most popular monofins for mers are the recreational monofins, which are made of a flexible plastic like material called polyethelene, and have adjustable rubber foot pockets.

Finis is currently the only monofin maker in the US. This article will mention a few other distributors commonly used in the US mermaid community. However, there are many different monofin distributers throughout the world. Often there are more choices and the blades are far more customizable outside of the US, since finswimming is has many serious enthusiasts and competitors.

FINIS Foil -- $45-60

Similar stiffness to the FINIS Rapid. This fin is designed to fit US shoe size men 3-15 and women 4.5-17.5. Unlike the Rapid and Wave, the Foil foot pockets are not adjustable. This is a popular option to put in silicone tails so the fluke will have a more flowing movement but still be able to achieve good propulsion.

FINIS Wave -- $40-$70

Made for men's US shoe size 1-7 or women's 2-8. The blade is on the small side and is less stiff than most.

FINIS Rapid -- $80-90

Made for men's US shoe size 8-12 or women's 9-13. The blade is large and stiff. For this reason most recommend the Rapid over the Wave for most tails. If you wish to use the Rapid but have smaller feet, use aqua shoes or a few pairs of neoprene socks can help with size difference.

Here's a size comparison of the Rapid and the Wave:

FINIS Competitor -- $300-$350

The FINIS Competitor fins are made of fiberglass with rubber foot pockets. They provide the highest stiffness and most propulsion and are preferred for ocean swimming. They are quite large compared to other fins. They stand up well for pictures while maintaining enough flop to move realistically.

FINIS Character Fins

FINIS also makes mermaid shaped fins. Because these fins are primarily for kids, the fins tend to be smaller than the Wave, Rapid and Foil. There have been complaints of the fins splitting and the strap breaking (these fins use one continuous strap over the back of both heels).

Mermaid Fin -- $25-$40, Male sizes 1-6, Female 2-8 (not sure if this is youth sizing)
Aquarius Fin -- $50-$65 Male sizes 4-10, Female 5-11
The Aquarius fin is relatively new and is geared more towards young adults. Below is a size comparison between the Mermaid, the Aquarius, and the Wave.

Designed for US shoe kids' size 12 to adult size 12. These fins are large, mermaid-shaped and made (according to the Mahina Merfins website) out of recycled rubber. Originally they were called "Oceanika" fins. They give a great floppy look without giving up too much propulsion, and have an excellent "slap" in the water. However because Mahina merfins were originally marketed as children's fins and the foot pockets aren't shaped, many mermaids complain of foot pockets rubbing and have to alter the pockets. Mahina has recently started marketing adult sizes through Urban Outfitters.

Fin Fun Fins -- around $50

Fin Fun markets fabric mermaid tails for children. Their monofins are comparatively small and composed of a neoprene sleeve and plastic insert. Their fin sizes are marketing according to the tail that fits you, rather than shoe size. They boast that their fin is "one size" and that shoe size doesn't matter. According to their website, they have a Monofin Jr. (which fits tail sizes 6-10) and a Monofin Pro (which fits tail sizes 12-20).

Cutting Monofins

Some people are glad to work around the shape of monofins, others like to cut theirs to shape. Polyethelene can be cut with sharp sissors or a raxor knife. Fiberglass monofins can be cut a dremel, bandsaw, or jigsaw- be sure to use proper safety equipment, including eye and nose/mouth protection!

Be sure not to cut sharp edges into your the blade, but instead round ones- cutting sharp edges will lead to tears in the blade later down the line. The reason for this is stress concentration at a corner- basically things are more likely to crack or tear at a sharp notch or inward corner because stress is concentrated there (such as package that has a small cut in the plastic to make it easier to tear there).
 If you have already have a tear or crack in your monofin, you can stop it by drilling a hole at apex of the crack.

Extending and Making Monofins

As I'm not a tail-crafting mermaid, I will leave the fin crafting advice to those much more experienced. I know it's difficult to make something durable from scratch as it has to hold together in the water, salt and chlorine.

Take a look at the Mernetwork thread for more advice.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Of Causes and Cut-throats

So many things have been happening! I'm going to write a more comprehensive post on the Utah Renaissance Festival and Fantasy Faire a bit later, but I wanted to address a few things that have been weighing on my mind a bit.

Firstly, there has been a growing trend in the mermaid community looking down on mermaid who do things "just for kids." For some reason, if a mermaid markets herself mainly towards children's events it is seen as cheapening herself or mermaids in general. While I agree that mermaids are not strictly "kids stuff," I disagree that interactions with children are worth less than modeling gigs, adult festivals, and other such events. I have been told recently that I'm not a true mermaid because, as someone put it, "[I] don't have a cause." Many mermaids have causes that they use their mersona to bring awareness of. For some, it's environmentalism. For some, it's sexual orientation/lack thereof. For others it's diet or exercise. While I teach about a few of these things (not sexual orientation, I have my opinions but keep my mersona OUT of that rigamarole), these are not my cause. But I want to let that critic and everyone else know right now: I do have a cause.

My cause is kids.

My cause is bringing magic, wonder, and joy into children's lives. I love seeing them happy, seeing their faces light up and knowing for just one hour or one minute magic touched their life. I love hearing their stories and they love that I listen to them. I love to let them teach me. It's amazing what comes out of a child's heart when they know that there is someone who is willing to listen, or who they can help. I know that a lot of children are forced to deal with harsh reality all too soon, and I love to take them out of that for a while. I love to teach them about the ocean and animals, I love to swim with them. The kids know I'm here for them, and that's why they tend to gravitate towards me. And if anyone thinks that touching a child's life for the better is in some way cheap or unworthy of my time, that's just too bad.

This is why when I go swimming I will always stop and talk to a child. It may lose me some exercise time, it may lose me a bit of time with my mersisters, it may even lose me an advertising opportunity. But I'll never consider it a waste of my time. This is also why I volunteer with local hospitals and long-term child care centers. I love going in and helping the kids feel better in what must be a horrible time for them. Could it take time away from updating my facebook or blog or from a paying party? Sure. But it's worth it.

Now on to a less uplifting topic: I'm disturbed by the cut-throat business attitudes I am seeing by some mermaids around me. When I got into mermaiding I believed that mermaids helped each other, that we were all part of a big mer-family. I met some mer-friends who helped me a bunch, and others that weren't quite so friendly. Recently, I've become aware of some "business strategies" that some mermaids are using, and although I may know and like the mer as a friend (sometimes I don't know them, please know that this isn't always the case) I cannot support these hurtful practices. I know that mermaiding professionally is a limited market, but many of us are in different areas and have different interests. Surely there is enough space in the state for us all!

So. It is NOT okay to tell children to look for flaws in someone's tail to tell if they're "a real mermaid." It is NOT okay to tell them that "real mermaids" have certain qualities that only you possess. It is NOT okay to compare your undisclosed price to other mermaids who have given a flexible starting point and imply that they're not willing to work with the client. It is not okay to step on someone to try and get ahead in this "business." We shouldn't seek to "corner the market" in a city or pool or aquarium. Instead, we should seek to open the doors to our mer-friends.

I'm reminded of the new HTC One commercials. Instead of advertising their phone, they focus most of their time on negatively portraying other phones. Even their tagline reads: "Everything your phone isn't." When did "advertising" become just "I'm going to tell you why everyone else is bad/false/scammers?" This isn't advertising. This is just gossip, petty and mean. I understand that mers need to promote their business. So feel free! Hand out cards, go places, talk with people about your causes, what you do, what you offer! But don't do anything you wouldn't want done to you, and please don't negatively portray another mer. We're all from the same big ocean, we all love what we do. Don't make it harder for anymer.

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A Big Year

It's nearly the end of 2012 (or to some of my non-US readers, it's already 2013). This year has been a big one for me! Take a look:

This year:
*I started Thalassa Mermaid and
*I swam at the Utah Pirate Fest and met a lot of new friends!
*I found a new mertender
*I improved my swimming technique
*Thanks to my wonderful fans, I fundraised enough money for a new silicone tail
*I volunteered at The Road Home
*I entertained at The Living Planet Aquarium
*I founded The Black Thorn Court, of which the Black Thorn Mermaids are a part (more on this later)
*I found 61 (to date) new wonderful fans on Facebook

In 2013, I hope to:
*Set up regular visits to The Living Planet Aquarium
*Set up regular volunteer hours with Primary Children's Hospital (once my silicone tail arrives)
*Keep old friends and make lots of new ones
*Entertain at both the Utah Renaissance Festival and Fantasy Faire, and Utah Pirate Fest
*Improve my flipping technique
*Improve my underwater photography technique

Thank you to everyone who made this a truly memorable year! A few people I owe a special shout-out to (this list is NOT all-inclusive, since it would go on for MILES):
*Gawain Falke, for being my wonderful mertender (and to his dad, he knows why)
*Mermaid Lei Loni, without whom I wouldn't have met many of the mers I know today
*Mermaid Janelle, for helping me through The Road Home with her fantastic beadlets and for being such a good sport
*Mermaid Dottie, for being my first mermaid friend (and her husband and little squirt for showing me what's possible in a mer-family)
*Mermaid Koral, for being so much fun and getting along as well as supporting me through my anxieties these past few months
*Stevi of Fish Butts for making my first tail
*Raven of Merbellas for making my silicone tail and being so patient with my requests and questions
*The Black Thorn Court for supporting the crazy mermaid
*The Living Planet Aquarium for helping us get set up with them
*My family and friends who have seen me along the way with this crazy dream, and haven't told too many people how insane I am. ;-)
*My cool facebook friends
*Mernetwork, without which I wouldn't be a mermaid today
*Raina the Halifax Mermaid, who is my mer-inspiration in tail and out. Keep swimming!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Living Planet Aquarium

Koral and Thalassa with the Living Planet Aquarium staff
Today, Mermaid Koral and I took the opportunity to perform at Utah's Living Planet Aquarium! The staff very friendly and excited to see us. They helped us get set up and provided us information about crowd flow. We were right next to the petting pool in the coral community. Koral joked that it was really the Koral Community, they just spelled it wrong!

It wasn't long before humans started coming in. It was fun to see all of the double-takes, and the kids who would spot us and make parents stop to look. Some children were very shy, as they tend to be. Others were flummoxed at the sight of a woman with a fish tail. Still others would run to us and ask us every question you could think of! One memorable little girl decided that my lap was a fantastic place to sit. She came right over and sat on me, making herself comfy and right at home. Her parents had a hard timing getting her to move on! I never knew my tail made such a comfy seat. ;-)

Koral and I were able to be a part of a few girls' birthday parties, one of which was Ariel-themed. We took pictures and gave out treasure. Even though we were very busy, we still had time to clown around and take fishy pictures in the "coral reef" setting. We were sad to go in the afternoon, but the aquarium staff said they would love to have us back so we will be back soon! Before we left, the staff asked to take a picture with us. Then we had "mermaid feeding time" in the cafeteria (Mac n' Cheese with Goldfish crackers, yum) and headed home.

It was a very fun time, and I can't wait to go back again!

Oh, by the way, we also took a few holiday pictures. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Road Home

On November 2 I had the opportunity to volunteer at The Road Home. Mermaid Lei Loni had arranged for an event and asked for more volunteers. I was so excited to do this!

The day of the event, my mertender and I snagged a couple of pirates and headed to The Road Home. As we drove (about a 30 minute drive) I began to feel sick. I was really worried that I'd end up getting to The Road Home and have to turn around and go back! I'm so glad I decided to try and stick it out for as long as I could. Mermaid Janelle gave me some peppermint beadlets, and I was ready to go.

We met the rest of our group in the back office area of the shelter. Loni was in a wheelchair and already in tail, Janelle was in her "walking" tail. I changed into my own tail, and we had fun chatting as people clustered in the doorway trying to get a look at us. The hit of the show was our Captain Jake, people were so amazed at his resemblance to Captain Jack Sparrow!

Our Group in the Playroom.
From left to right: Captain Jake, Nick, Koral, Thalassa, Gawain (mertender), Janelle, Lei Loni.
When it was time to start my mertender carried me to the playroom. It wasn't my first time in a shelter, but it's always hard to see the conditions these people live in. The rows of cots, items which are likely everything they own piled on these little beds. I kept trying to lift my tail to make sure I didn't hit anything or anyone. A few children were following me and asking questions, I did my best to answer them over my mertender's shoulder. I could already tell this would be a lot of fun.

We arrived at the playroom, and set up. I realized I had forgotten my sea chest with goodies in it, but my wonderful mertender had brought seashells for me to hand out. When we were ready to go, the barrage began! ;-)

The next hour or so was a blur of children, handing out shells, and answering questions. The children were amazingly polite, many of them thanking us and watching carefully to be sure they didn't tread on our tails. I was "attacked" for a bit by little humans who wanted to tickle my fluke, they love how I giggle. There were a few girls who stayed by Mermaid Koral and I, asking questions and (for me) answering them. I always find its fun to let children show you what they know. I marveled at toes that moved separately from each other, learned about foot-coverings called "shoes," and was pleasantly flummoxed by a method of hair-weaving called a "braid." Koral had an adorable little girl who kept telling her, "You're my favorite, I really do like you." We were joined by a few more mermaids later on, but I had to leave because I was feeling sick again.

These children were so...amazing. Doing things like this always reinforces the fact that kids are kids, no matter where they grow up. They're all kids trying to do their best. I had a wonderful time doing this, and I can't wait to participate in more events like this one at The Road Home.

The Human in the Tail

Name: Elizabeth
Age: 24
Occupation: Schoolteacher, mermaid

I look at mermaiding as a way to educate and entertain children. As a teacher, I have a unique connection to children. I love to bring happiness and fantasy into their lives!

Mermaiding Goals:

--Get a silicone tail
--Learn to do flips underwater
--Learn to lift my fluke out of the water
--Be able to swim for 30 minutes consecutively without tiring
--Lengthen breath hold to 1 minute
--Get an underwater camera
--Schedule a photoshoot with silicone tail
--Get 5 birthday parties for experience

Thalassa's Tale

(UPDATED 11/18/12)

Vital Statistics
Name: Thalassa Macupin Meria (Denoting Thalassa, of the tribe of the Spotted Fins, from the sea Merin (known as the Sargasso Sea to humans) )
Age: 124
Occupation: Bard in training

Thalassa’s Childhood

Thalassa was born in 1888 to Nerissa Macupin Meria and Belor Macupin Meria. Her mother was a teacher and her father a retired open-sea scout. She was the eldest of her family, however the Macupins raise their families as a pod. Her cousins were as close as siblings to her. In this way, Thalassa had over 27 pod-mates growing up.

She always loved to play with the squirts and guppies (infants, toddlers and kids), singing songs and telling them stories. She grew up as a sort of squirt-sitter, and this contributed to her kind and compassionate nature. She led a relatively sheltered life in this way.

Thalassa transitioned to Merling after her first century. Once her tail developed the spots that indicated her full maturity, she was asked to choose a profession and start her training. After a period of indecision over whether she should pick a guppy-related profession, Thalassa followed her love of music and decided to become a Bard.

Thalassa would leave each morning for a period of training with her mentor, Mapelos. She began to practice vocal techniques, starting with tune. Eventually, they would work their way to increasing her vocal range and then its volume, and finally she would learn to layer her vocal emanations with harmonic patterns that could affect mood. As the saying goes, “A good song can bring peace.” It was told that a Master Bard could earn a place at any ruler’s right hand, using their song to both entertain and keep the Court a happy and peaceful place.

Thalassa also began to learn the art of storytelling, although this did not go as well as her vocal studies. Merstories are complex, and their method of oral storytelling relies on vocal patterns, gestures and words to convey the tale. These stories were told strictly according to tradition, and not a word was to be out of place. Many times, Thalassa’s imagination would take hold and she would lose the current of the tale, allowing her words and gestures to veer into unprecedented territory. Mapelos was patient with her errors and worked with her to improve her abilities.

Mapelos disappeared thirteen years later, leaving Thalassa without a mentor. He had become sort of a second father to her, and she sank into a dark mood. For a time, she stopped singing altogether. It held no joy for her without her mentor to hear. The only thing that helped was playing with the guppies. Eventually she began to sing again--lullabies and funny songs to entertain the small mers.

The Search
For a time, Thalassa thought to search for Mapelos. She thought he had gone on dry land. Mapelos had always had a fondness for the music he heard coming from the great ships that swam on the surface of the sea. He spoke often of instruments that could only be played in the open air, and of the different sound the voice had on land. Walking on land was frowned upon by merculture, but mers did occasionally disappear and reappear with tales of having been stuck on land.

Thalassa began to search for a way to find Mapelos and bring him home. She met Ame and her pod, a group of disreputable merlings who claimed to have been to the surface several times. Through them, she found ancient texts describing the method of removing one’s tail and walking on land for a time. The mer’s tail must be removed for no longer than 24 hours, the text warned, or the unhappy merperson would be stuck on land forever.

One day, Ame came to her with both exciting and baleful news. Her pod had been exiled for departing from tradition and studying “forbidden arts.” Thalassa was not suspected, and as she had never actually removed her tail she would not be punished. Thalassa was relieved, but then Ame produced a small scale from her waist pouch. As she flourished it, Thalassa saw that the colors and shape matched Mapelos’ scales. Ame insisted that she knew what had happened to Mapelos, that all would be forgiven for her pod if they found him and brought him back safely. She invited Thalassa to join her pod on a journey to bring him home.

Thalassa was torn, but her love and worry for her dear mentor spurred her on. She accepted Ame’s offer. Leaving a note for her pod, she swam away with Ame. She had no idea that she would not be back for a long while, if ever.

Thalassa swam a long way with Ame. They would often approach a beach and remove their tails to play in the sand, but Thalassa always hung back. Removing one’s tail was an unpleasant feeling, and she loved the feel of the sea on her skin. The surface was much too dry and sterile. The others in Ame’s pod often made fun of her for refusing to join them. Thalassa would often sing to the pod at night, lulling them to sleep comfortably and lighten their mood. They demanded she sing their favorite songs several times, often past the point where she was hoarse. Ame’s pod also seemed to love violence, picking fights with other pods along the way. Often, they would hunt fish past their needs and simply leave the wasted dead to rot in the tide. They had no care for the strong emotional bond that Thalassa had to the sea. In fact, it seemed to annoy them.

These things shocked Thalassa, but she consoled herself with daydreams of finding Mapelos. Perhaps he was trapped, but they would find and restore him. Perhaps he was ill and only she could comfort him with her voice. Maybe a human had captured him and was even now holding him for some sort of ransom from the sea. Thalassa pictured Mapelos’ face as he was rescued, and it sustained her through the hard times. She swam with Ame around the tip of South America, all the way to the western side of Mexico.

Returning from a private hunt (her “timid” hunting manner having caused her “podmates” much amusement), Thalassa overheard Ame talking to her pod. She knew Thalassa was an annoyance, but they needed a bard if they were to get what they wanted from the humans. Humans had no resistance to the harmonics in mersong, and with Thalassa’s abilities they could get whatever they needed. Food, clothing, could all be theirs. They simply had to be patient and eventually Thalassa would join them on land. Ame also spoke of Mapelos, indicating that he was dead and that the scale had been taken from a dead body.

Hearing this, Thalassa’s gentle nature disappeared under a wave of hurt and betrayal. She attacked Ame, and was seriously injured by Ame’s podmates. In a final traitorous act, Ame and her podmates abandoned Thalassa floating in the tide. She would never see them again.

Thalassa healed, but her injuries would always cause her to swim a bit more slowly. She became cautious and rather timid, guarding her trust and her heart as the most valuable treasure. She tried to find her way back to Merin, but became lost and confused. She ended up off the coast of California. The mers there were generally a suspcious people and they refused to help her.

One day, Thalassa was hunting when she felt a tug on her fluke. Assuming it was a piece of kelp that had caught, she reached back without looking to release herself. The “kelp” was rough and unlike any plant Thalassa had felt before. She looked back. Her fluke and lower tail were caught in a mass of ropes tied together. What was it that humans called it...a “net?” Whatever it was, she had to get it off! The other side of the “net” was trailing up into the surface, and from the way it was moving it seemed there was someone at the other end. Trying to free herself, Thalassa only got more tangled. The net dragged her slowly towards the surface, and as her head broke into the air she heard excited shouts.

Panicking, she took a deep breath and screamed with all the anger, pain and fear she had felt over the last seven years. Instinctively she had overlaid her scream with a multitude of harmonics, and the sailors had to let go of the net and hold their ears in self-defense.

Thalassa swam as quickly as she could, but she could not seem to get into the deep water without causing much pain in her broken tail. Sobbing, she floundered near the surface. She was too afraid to find help, but she couldn’t heal without resting first. But she couldn’t rest in case more humans came by...

Thalassa’s fears were realized as she saw a human figure on the shore. It was looking right at her! Thalassa dove quickly, but she was forced to surface again as the pain in her tail became too great. When she surfaced, the human seemed to it saying he wanted to help. Too clouded with fear and exhaustion to care anymore, Thalassa swam towards the shore. Later, she could not remember everything that happened, but the human was true to his word and helped her. Thalassa remembers her outer wounds healing and giving the human a few strands of hair, to call upon her should he ever require her to repay the favor.

Thalassa’s outer wounds had healed, but her tail had been broken internally and required more healing. During this time Thalassa stayed in the shallows. She was careful to keep out of sight of the humans, but she often observed them. Her father had taught her that you must know the habits of the predators. That way you could avoid danger. Thalassa often saw little humans playing in the sand. They reminded her of the guppies back home, and watching them lifted her heart. She grew to recognize the regular little visitors. She named them in her head, and often imagined what would happen if she revealed herself to them. Of course, she never actually did. Thalassa grew attached to the beach, and came to think of it as a second home. She looked forward to the familiar visitors each day.

There was another regular visitor to the beach: the human who had helped Thalassa. Each time he came she wondered if he was going to call her. Her heart thumped with fear and heavy duty each time she pictured coming to his aid. One night, as she watched, he waded out into the shallows. As she wondered what he was about, a wave came and knocked him into the sea. She watched for him to resurface, but it didn’t seem he was going to. Guilt and fear warred within her as Thalassa realized the human had been watching for her, and if she didn’t do something his death would be her fault.

She swam towards where she had seen the human, but he didn’t seem to be there. Sick with guilt, she searched. He was gone. No human could stay under for so long, and she didn’t think he could have surfaced without her seeing. Thalassa felt terrible, but she finally decided she could at least honor him with a song. Until now, she didn’t realize that this grown human was a part of the familiar sights she had grown fond of.

As she sang, Thalassa felt someone watching her. She saw a human on the rocks. Thalassa stopped her song and dove, but someone about the way the human sat was familiar. Swimming closer, she gasped in surprise and relief. It was the kind human! He had lived! She had not even considered that he had climbed out of the water. He was sort of hunched over, his face buried in his hands. What if he was hurt? He must have heard her singing, but she had to make sure he was all right. Embarrassed that he had hear her singing his death song, she decided to pretend she was simply fulfilling her obligation.

Touching his ankle, she quailed a bit at the surprise on his face. Maybe it would have been better to stay away. “Are you all right? You called me...and...I came.” Thalassa didn’t know if there was a protocol for the Calling, but was doing the best she could. The human assured her he was all right, he was simply sad that he had lost his pouch with her hair. Thalassa was flattered, but worried that this human seemed to be forming an attachment to her. Yes, watching him was all right, but actually spending time with him was another matter. From what she knew, grown humans were grim and often horrible with each other. Still, he had been kind...

Satisfied that he was all right, Thalassa dove back into the waves. It was too dry up in the air. She returned with another strand of her hair. “This is usually only done if you’ve saved my life...but you didn’t really need me, and it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t give you another chance.” Swimming away, Thalassa realized she didn’t dread his Call quite so much.

Over the next year, the human Called Thalassa often. Sometimes he would stand on the beach and they would talk. Other times he would be on a ship, and she would sing to him. His name was Gawain, and she learned that he had been mistreated by humans just as she. He spoke with passion of noble goals, and Thalassa agreed whole-heartedly. In time, she grew to trust Gawain.

On Dry Land
On the anniversary of their meeting, Thalassa came to a decision: she had no real friends in the sea, and her desire to meet her “little humans” was great. She knew Gawain would take care of her if she needed him. She would remove her tail.

Though it had been a long time since learning the “forbidden art” of removing her tail, watching Ame’s pod had engrained the method in her memory. It was very unpleasant shucking off the tail that was a part of her and feeling it replaced by two foreign appendages with far too many moving parts. Thalassa hid her tail, wrapping herself in an old sail that she had found long ago. She wasn’t sure of how to move these two “tails,” and she didn’t want to try and look foolish. So she waited for Gawain.

He arrived, and she could tell he was shocked by her lack of tail. Thalassa tried to stand, but a heaviness that she had not felt in the sea came over her. She sat back down with a thump. Kindly, Gawain carried her to a structure on the land. He brought her beautiful things, and served delicious food that Thalassa had never tasted before. She thanked him over and over, and then they practiced “walking.” Thalassa was still awkward but able to get around when they headed to the beach.

At the beach, Thalassa was able to meet her little humans for the first time. She was still a bit shy, but she loved laughing and playing with them. Thalassa hadn’t had so much fun in ages! She told the children she would return the next day. At the end of the day, Thalassa bid farewell to Gawain and returned to the sea.

Gawain and Thalassa fell into a sort of routine. She would surface and remove her tail, he would carry her to his home and they would practice human customs and movement. In the afternoon Thalassa would play with the “children,” as she learned the little humans were called. She still stayed away from big humans. Apart from Gawain, she trusted very few of them, and she was still afraid.

One day, she decided to let the children see her tail. Asking them to return alone, she slipped her tail on and waited for them. What followed was a joyful experience. Some of the children would touch her tail in awe, and she laughed at the amazement on their faces. Others would tickle her fluke, or lift it to try and find her “feet.” Thalassa thoroughly enjoyed herself, and she sought to make children happy wherever she went from that moment on.

Now, Thalassa travels. She will someday return to her home and family, but right now she feels the need to bring joy to the children of the surface.