So if you know anything about the world of professional mermaids, which as an extremely fortunate reader of this blog you obviously do, you know that Linden Wolbert is one of the more kick-ass mermaids out there. She’s an accomplished swimmer, scuba diver and freediver who can hold her breath for five minutes underwater, and she loves talking to kids about the ocean, making them fall madly in love with it so they’ll want to protect it. And she’s beautiful and sweet and radiant and passionate and enchanting and all those kinds of mermaidly things. It’s really almost too much. When I interviewed mermaid extraordinaire Hannah Fraser recently for a gorgeous new MERMAID MAGAZINE I’m editing, which I shall write about more later this week, it was Linden she mentioned first as the mermaid she admired and looked up to.
Here’s Linden on the Today Show a couple months ago:
And here she is last summer on the 20/20, where she appeared with Hannah Fraser.
Amazing, right? Here is our Q and A:
How long have you been a mermaid?
Always. :) In fact, I have a theory that I was a fish in a past life….and transitioning into my human form this time around was too difficult. Clearly, I had no choice but to make myself into a half-fish, half-human creature as a result! I actually started mermaiding in earnest in 2005. Thus began the creation of my mermaid tail, which was something like “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” meets “The Never Ending Story” with a splash of “The Abyss” if you catch my drift ;) Wow. Not an easy task. But it was beyond worth it!!! (Special shout out thanks to Allan Holt, my amazing Special Effects artist!!!) With this incredible one-of-a-kind 35 pound silicone appendage, I can now move freely about the ocean, or a swimming pool, with relative ease and speed. :)
How did you get your start professionally?
I was working in an office job from 9-5 and on-call 24 hours a day. I found it challenging because all I could do was dream of diving. Lunch breaks were spent watching underwater footage online and dreaming myself into those magical aquatic places, and every moment outside of work possible was spent underwater. As much as I LOVED life in a cubicle, I decided to quit my “real job” to pursue my dreams in the ocean. With visions dancing in my head of educating children about ocean conservation, underwater exploration and water safety, exotic travel and meeting other ocean-minded people, I headed tail-first into my dreams. Since I was a competitive swimmer, avid SCUBA diver and a freediver (breath hold diver) long before I became a mermaid, I fell naturally into the role once I made my mind up to do it. Thanks to lengthy and dedicated training I can hold my breath for over 5 minutes and dive to 100 feet down and back on a single breath of air….almost deeper than I’ve SCUBA dived! I have yet to hit my limits as a freediver, which is very exciting when it comes to mermaiding. I feel more and more like a “real” mermaid the better my diving gets. I am a mermaid with a message from the oceans….and hopefully the realistic nature of my mermaid appearance captures people’s attention long enough to listen and become as enchanted with the sea as I am.
Have you always loved mermaids?
Absolutely. Being a water baby from a very young age, I naturally, like all you other sweet aspiring mermaids and mermen out there reading this right now, dreamed I had a tail when I was swimming. Being a proud member of the “Little Mermaid” generation, I can promise you my family involuntarily learned all of the lyrics to every song in that movie WITH me. I wore out the VHS tape of that Disney film. Yes, yes I did :) My love for all things ocean encouraged my fascination as well. I don’t think I could have predicted at age 8 that I would BECOME a professional mermaid. The idea still tickles me, even though it’s my reality now. Sometimes I still marvel at the whole process. My parents have been an amazing source of support through all of this. I mean, really….how many parents would believe (and whole-heartedly encourage) their adult daughter when she says she wants to become a full-time mermaid after going through four years of film school and having just left a secure job behind??? *Thanks, Mums and Daddy!*
What do you think the appeal of mermaids is to ordinary humans?
Well we’re halfway there already, aren’t we? We’re SOOOOO close to being merpeople in our current state as humans – especially if we have a good level of comfort in the water. Slap on a pair of fins or a monofin, hop in the water and….POOF! You’re practically a siren! Mermaids are spellbinding and enigmatic. They often have long hair and fair skin. They swim like a dolphin and possess the beauty and grace of the sea. They are adorned with pearls and gems from shipwrecks, and frolic about the ocean keeping their eyes and fins peeled for unsuspecting seafaring men who are voyaging to and fro. They leave a feeling of being unattainable in their wake, further raising their appeal. They sing haunting songs on rocks while their luminous tails glisten in the sun. What’s not to love? I also believe that because they are so elusive, humans become fixated when mermaids are in their presence; trying to catch a good glimpse of them for fear they may disappear….
What kind of events and film/television work, etc., have you done as a professional mermaid?
All sorts. Everything from ocean charity events to crazy celebrity parties in Hollywood. School lessons for elementary children about sea critters (my favorite!) to promotional poolside parties. Pool time play dates for kids to being an ambassador for swimming safety at water parks and the Caribbean islands. This is one of the most unpredictable jobs in the world….you just never know what will come up next! Life can change with a simple email or phone call. I feel ridiculously lucky and grateful to have been featured by a bunch of great news outlets over the past several years that have expanded my opportunities and my message tenfold. My favorite work, by FAR, is with children. Since this entire passion was born in me as a youngster, I wish to pass that opportunity on to the kids I have the privilege of coming into contact with. You should see their sweet faces….the wonder they experience…it is so rewarding. It makes all of the hard work worth it every time :) Also, keep a close eye on my website in the coming days. Something new and exciting is about to surface!!!
And how do people tend to respond to you as a mermaid (as opposed to in regular human form!)?
When I am a mermaid, all I see are miles of smiles around me :) Really. At every given moment. It is truly a gift. I hope I make people smile when I’m “wearing my legs” too….I’m just as bubbly out of my tail as I am in it….
I understand you trained all the mermaids (and mermen) at the newly opened Dive Bar in Sacramento. Can you tell me about that? What makes a good mermaid or merman?
Yes. I generally don’t “train” mers, but this was a really unique and fun opportunity! The guys and gals of Dive Bar were a blast to work with. They have an awesome opportunity to get all mythical…in the middle of a metropolitan area! The space is really unique and beautiful. I really just helped them find their inner mers. Relax in the water. Be comfortable in a tail and learn to be one with it. Open your eyes and make it look like you’re not underwater when you smile and interact with the “audience.” They were all so unique in their styles and personalities…the way all merfolk should be! What makes a good mermaid or merman? Loving what you are doing, just like with any profession. :) If you truly love whatever it is you do, you will succeed! Someone once told me that if you keep failing at something, then you have a higher purpose and are not living up to your fullest potential. Something bigger and better awaits you. How exciting is that???
Can you tell me about your ocean conservation work?
My ocean conservation work consists of sharing my love and knowledge of the ocean and its creatures with anyone who will listen. I do this independently, as well as with various charities and nonprofits I believe in. My focus is on children, because they are incredible sources of energy and new ideas. They also have a great propensity for sponging up new information and implementing it into their daily lives. The lyrics are true: “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way!” Yes, it’s absolutely true. I love to encourage them to explore the REAL ocean through contagious enthusiasm. Experience creatures in their indigenous habitats, instead of in an aquarium where they don’t have space to swim. How about ONE family vacation on a boat or to a coral reef? Or to a nature preserve? Camping in a forest? This type of opportunity has such a positive spin on children’s perception of their impact on the environment. This is the best way to promote conservation of any habitat to anyone – through experiential learning. Be there. See it for yourself. Appreciate the wild dolphins swimming in an endless sea, or marvel over the colorful reef fish dancing around you while you snorkel someplace with your family. Take note of the emotional response to seeing your first whale spout, or watching a starfish crawling across the sand one millimeter at a time. Watch the light filtering through the kelp forest like some otherworldly planet! Envelop yourself in a silent world where there are no cell phones and laptops….and remember, at that moment, YOUR IMPACT on that world in your day to day life. To me, this is ocean conservation at its purest. Go dive!!!!
And finally, what advice do you have for aspiring mermaids?
My best wishes and starfishes to all of you aspiring mermaids (and mermen!) out there!!! Not to burst any bubbles, but this is not really an easy thing to do professionally. My best advice is to listen to your heart. Ignore any skeptics out there, and persevere! Keep on swimming, and be the unique and beautiful sea creature you are :) There will be challenges, and for each challenge overcome, there will be a greater reward. I am humbled every day by the incredible work being done out there by so many great ocean advocates, and have so many people to thank for where I am. You know who you are :) It is an ongoing journey in which I am still a novice. Merpeople must wear many hats and many fins to succeed….but if you truly love it, you will flourish!!!!! Fins to the left, fins to the right…..