Last year Animal Planet aired a special "Mermaids: The Body Found" suggesting that a group of scientists discovered the remains of a mermaid after investigating the mass beaching of whales and dolphins as a result of the Unites States Navy's work with SONAR.
On Sunday, Animal Planet re-aired the special and a new live interview with the head biologist on the team that discovered the so-called mermaid. Now here is where it gets tricky. Animal Planet is working hard to try and get viewers to believe what you are seeing is real evidence discovered by real scientists.
In the documentary style film, "Mermaids: The Body Found," Dr. Paul Robertson played by Andre Weideman according to IMDB.com discovers the partially digested remains of some sort of marine mammal after traveling to South Africa to investigate another whale beaching.
Dr. Robertson and his team of scientists from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) begin to examine the marine animal's remains only to discover that its organs and skeletal structure do not exactly match dolphins, manatees or whales.
The documentary goes back and forth between the testimony of the scientists and animations depicting the possible evolution of an aquatic humanoid species A.K.A the mermaid.
Now while you're watching this documentary it is hard to tell if the documentary is a dramatic reenactment or a complete fictionalization. Each time the program would go to commercial they would tell you to keep watching in order to see dramatic new evidence in the debate about mermaids.
The documentary keeps going talking about various theories, showing the struggle of the scientists and ultimately the realization that this strange new marine mammal was in fact a mermaid. The documentary does not portray the mermaid as a group of half human half fish intellectual creatures living in grand societies under the sea as we are used to.
Rather the film says this new species of mermaid is a highly evolved humanoid species similar to dolphins, traveling in pods with human characteristics, such as hands.
Like their human counterparts, the mermaid had to go through millions of years of evolution in order to adapt to its underwater environment.
The scientific aspect of the documentary is what gets you hooked and asking what if?
That is of course until you see the so called evidence of a live mermaid captured on the cell phone of two young boys.
The documentary is based around the factual problem Navy SONAR can cause for whales. The story goes that two young boys discovered the mass beaching in Washington state and took video on their camera phone. The boys noticed a mass of flesh on the beach and like any curious kid began to poke it with a stick.
All of a sudden there it is, an angry mermaid screaming at the two boys reaching out for one of them. The boy with the stick hardly reacts. He doesn't scream or panic but rather slowly gets up and runs away. The animation used in the evidence is obvious and not at all Hollywood worthy.
The other premise of this documentary is that the government is covering up the existence of mermaids and convinced the two boys that what they saw was actually a dead seal. Knowing what they saw was no seal the boys keep the cell phone video and eventually show it to Dr. Robertson and his team when they come knocking.
It is not until the credits roll that the viewers are told what they just saw was a work of science fiction. The Animal Planet website reveals that what they aired was "science fiction based on some real events and scientific theory."
The official statement from NOAA is that "No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found."
The story of mermaids has been around for centuries. Pirates and fishermen alike told tall tales about mermaids helping the legend to grow. Some superstitious cultures today still believe in the legend of the mermaid while science says there is no proof.
The Animal Planet mermaid hoax as it is referred to by some brought the network some negative attention when it first aired. Journalist Brad Newsome criticized the network saying the program belongs on tabloid networks without the "pretensions for scientific credibility."
Are there unknown species lurking in the undiscovered parts of the world? Dr. White, a marine biologist at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, told the Latin Times that new species are being discovered all the time.
"Many of them are microbes (bacteria, etc.) and many are deep-sea organisms."
Dr. White also says that a human-like creature, with the same intelligence the mermaid is suggested to have, already exists.
"Whales and dolphins share a lot of the traits mermaids are supposed to have -- fully aquatic mammals with human-like intelligence."
Below are videos showing the evidence presented in the Animal Planet special.