So Dana Marie Richardson is a professional mermaid who lives in Hawaii and free dives with scary sea creatures and poses seductively upon rocks and beaches in a gorgeous tail while her long flaxen locks blow in the wind. She also teaches mermaid swim school to aspiring mermaids and educates humans generally about ocean life and conservation. See for yourself, but be warned: you may get very jealous:
My Q and A with Dana follows. Here is another interview with her, though, in case you’re the never-satisfied type who always wants more.
How long have you been a mermaid?
I’ve been a mermaid my whole life, always having been more comfortable underwater than on land. Born in the desert, I was a fish out of water, spending all my days in the pool dreaming of communicating with whales and dolphins in the sea and pretending I was a real mermaid. The ocean called to me and I moved to California as soon as I could. My next journey took me to Hawaii where I’ve lived for the last nine years free diving with dolphins daily and travelling worldwide to swim with and photograph whales and dolphins. Being completely at home under the sea I can free dive ninety feet and have swam with many species of dolphins, whales, sharks, rays, whalesharks, and more! Although, I have yet to encounter a giant squid! I have great respect for the ocean and all sea life and feel completely at home swimming with sixty-foot whales ~ that is where I feel most at peace.
What inspired you to make your first mermaid tail?
I made my first mermaid tail when I was around seven years old using dive rings, fabric, and fins and would spend hours practicing swimming and holding my breath underwater. I was inspired to make my first grown-up mermaid tail by a desire to take my love for the ocean to another level and share that with others. Seeing other mermaids worldwide who are able to pursue their dreams professionally as mermaids also helped me decide to complete my dream and grow a tail! The experiences I’ve had here in the ocean have helped me to see that anything is possible when we step into the flow of life. I started my first adult mermaid tail 3 years ago and have since created 4 with another on the way. The biggest inspiration of all for me is the ocean, dolphins, whales, and all the beauty and magic of the sea. I’ve found a way that I can share that with both kids and adults and inspire others to not only love the ocean, but also to follow their hearts and live their dreams!
What is “mermaiding”?
I love telling children that a Real Mermaid is someone who loves the ocean with all their heart soul, and who feels at home in the sea. The mermaid speaks up for the sea on land because she is connected to both land and sea. Mermaiding is fulfilling all of that by being a mermaid! Swimming, respecting and communicating with sea life, playing and filling the land world with undersea magic!*
Can you tell me about your mermaid school?
The mermaid school I teach is for all ages and swim levels. Open to anyone who has a desire to swim and feel like a mermaid! Monofins, mermaid costumes, and tails are available for people to try underwater. I teach the undulations style of swimming which is much like a whale or dolphin kick, starting with the nose and rolling throughout the body to the tail. We have so much fun and a photographer comes to document the experience and each student leaves with a mermaid swim certificate.
How do people respond, when attending your classes and putting on tails for the first time, etc.?
I love seeing how people respond! Some are nervous and excited, but always end up feeling so playful when putting the tail on and practicing the mermaid swim for the first time. I think for both children and adults it helps bring the fantasy to life and also really helps them feel more comfortable and playful in the water. I’ve had people that were not good swimmers, who became super comfortable at once and left with a new desire that anything in life is possible and went off to buy their own mermaid tails to swim in!
How do you describe the appeal of mermaids?
Mermaids are magical, in tune with the sea and rhythm of the ocean, communicating with dolphins and whales, spending time on land, yet always feeling that call back to the sea.. . The ocean and water is also very healing and peaceful, a place where time stops and really a whole other world unfolds. There is still so much that is unknown about the ocean, it’s been said that we know more about Mars, which leaves that mystery to lure us in.
I understand you do a lot in the way of education and ocean conservation, etc. Can you tell me about that?
My passion has always been for the ocean and a love for sea life, dolphins and whales in particular. I became a Marine Mammal Naturalist, boat captain, and underwater photographer to be in the sea environment daily and also to educate others. I also participate in whale and dolphin research here in Hawaii. I love educating about marine life, but I also carry a conservation message that what we do to the land affects the sea and what we do to the sea affects us greatly here on land. Without the ocean, we can’t survive, and as a mermaid I bring the ultimate connection from humans to fish. When I take people to whale and dolphin watch, it’s very important to educate about them as a species and also how to be respectful to them while swimming in their home, the ocean. I’ve been so blessed to know many of the dolphins by name here in Kona from swimming with them daily. While swimming in the South Pacific and having those humpback whales come over to swim eye to eye is such an amazing experience and it’s so important to me to share how to interact with sea life in a way that they will want to grace us with their presence. Each experience in the ocean is completely different and always has something to teach us if we listen. Through my ocean photography and as a mermaid, my goal is to carry the message of the beauty and magic of the sea to land. Also to let people know the ocean is in distress and how we can help by spreading awareness, picking up trash, recycling, and much more! My hope is that a love for the sea will spread and mermaids will come to life everywhere speaking up for our oceans!
Do you have any favorite mermaid mentors/art/film/books/etc.?
My favorite mermaid story is about a Persian mermaid named Julinar of the Sea. I’ve also had a coffee table book called ‘Mermaids Nymphs of the Sea” book I’ve cherished for years! I’ve been drawn to beautiful mermaid art and stories all my life. Rell Sunn has been one of my idols growing up ~ as to me, even though she never had a tail, she was the ultimate real life mermaid and her love for the ocean spread everywhere she went. Of course I loved movies like The Little Mermaid as a child and Splash.. . more recently, the animated movie, Ponyo is fun to watch. I believe Hannah Fraser is an icon as a professional working mermaid as she has accomplished so much on land and sea. There are so many mermaids worldwide and what’s so beautiful is that we are all very unique in what we do, yet share a common love for the sea. ~
And finally, do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
Follow your heart, live your dreams, love the sea, and happy mermaiding!!!