When sea captain Samuel Eades arrived in the Caribbean, he saw the body of a mermaid for sale. Despite its ugliness, Eades wanted to buy it. He couldn’t afford the price, so he sold everything he had to buy the creature. He figured he would earn back his money in London.
In London a scientist examined the body and proclaimed that mermaids really did exist. The sea captain started showing the creature in a shop. However, one scientist after examining the corpse, revealed it was a hoax. The public was furious at Eades for tricking them. Eades spent the rest of his life trying to pay back his debt.
Samuel Eades’ mermaid gained renewed popularity in 1842 when P. T. Barnum, founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, took the mermaid from the Boston Museum. He renamed it the Fiji mermaid, telling people it had been caught in the Fiji Islands and displayed it in his new museum. When Barnum opened the door, crowds poured in and listened to hi assistant Dr. Griffin. Griffon said, “If there are sea lions and seahorses why not sea humans?”
But these ideas have no basis in science. For example, Griffin had said that flying fish were the missing link between birds and fish, but flying fish just glide out of the water. They have no relation with birds. And seahorse are just fish with horse shaped heads.
The public were disappointed because the wrinkled creature was nothing like mermaids they had heard of. The ugliness of the creature convinced some people because reality often doesn’t live up to fantasy. Even though this mermaid was proved to be a fake, the magic and mystery of the mermaids lives on.