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Disha Haque

Dishin’ it with Disha: The ocean is scary, and mermaids are probably real

I am not a strong swimmer. In fact, it may be potentially dangerous for me to be in a body of water that is deeper than 5 foot 6 inches. I have never claimed to be a talented, or even functional, swimmer– which frequently alarms my family and close friends. For some, it may be unimaginable to be unable to maneuver through deep waters effectively, but I would be lying if I said I felt I was missing very much. The contents of the ocean are wide and terrifying, and I have heard too many beach horror stories to be eager to enter the ocean anytime soon. 

To go along with the uncertainty water brings, the ocean's inhabitants are even more of a mystery to humans. With approximately 91% of 2.2 million ocean creatures still waiting to be discovered, according to PLOS biology, most of what lies at the bottom of the ocean is still debated among marine biologists and experts. Although my lack of a scientific degree may make me inadequate in discussing the creatures that lie 35,876 ft below surface level, it would not take an aquatic expert to say that anything could lie below the ocean's waves.

Being home to fish with bioluminescent organs and foot-long supergiant amphipods, the contents of the deep ocean are fascinating for wide-eyed children and researchers alike. The creatures that can survive in this atmosphere aren't found anywhere else on the globe, and most of what lives down there is still a mystery to the general human population. 

Because of the uncommon traits found in deep-sea creatures, like see-through skulls and the ability to shape-shift, assuming that any fantasy creature could potentially exist in the mysterious waters wouldn't be a crazy conclusion. From the Loch Ness monster, sea serpents or selkies, anything could lurk in the ecosystem below the earth's tides.

The existence of fantasy creatures is a common debate, particularly the existence of mermaids. The half-fish, half-human beings have been part of Western culture since the Ancient Greek and Roman empires in both mythology and entertainment and are recognizable by the majority of society. Although it is easy to deny the existence of these mythical creatures since there are no evidence-supported sightings of them, there is no evidence against the existence of mermaids.

As the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency shared in 2012, "No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found." However, there is still much to be learned about the ocean's inhabitants that could not be predicted. I think it's silly to discard the possibility of mermaid existence since only about 5% of the ocean has been explored and charted, according to Ocean Literary Portal

Also, if mermaids do exist, they most likely are not the Mako Mermaids-esque characters that usually come to mind. In reality, mermaids would need to evolve to survive the harsh nature of the deep-ocean waters and they would probably look a little funky because of this.

Because real mermaids may not even appear to be half-human, the definition of 'mermaid' may need to be adjusted to fit the deep sea conditions better. 

Any mermaid-like creature would have to be able to function with the lack of oxygen and frigid temperatures at the bottom of the sea. They would need gills, a thick layer of blubber and a lot of hair to keep warm, according to BBC Science Focus. This would dramatically change the aesthetics we usually visualize a mermaid having, but they could still potentially exist in the unknown deep waters. 

Although speculation is still rampant on the definition of a 'mermaid' and their existence, the ocean is still filled with unknown, unsettling and potentially disturbing creatures. Mermaids may not be proven real yet, but the ocean is still far from fully discovered. This leads me to believe that mermaids could lurk at the ocean's bottom, waiting to be discovered. 

Although the existence of mermaids can be left to personal opinion, what is indisputable is that the ocean is scary. I am not in any rush to strengthen my swimming skills or explore deep waters anytime soon.

Disha Hoque is a freshman studying journalism. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Disha know by tweeting her @dishahoque05

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