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Confessions of a Real-Life Entrepremer!

Professional mermaid Linden Wolbert, once dubbed “Mermaid to the Stars,” shares her personal journey from master diver into the watery world of mermaiding and exactly how she came by her tail. From edu-taining kids through mer-formances and her video series, “Mermaid Minute,” to her commercial film and photography work—did I mention Hollywood parties?—Mermaid Linden exemplifies the aquatic life well-finned. As a bonus, Vancouver’s Nerdmaid Faith offers a spe-shell mermaid resource guide. It’s enough to make you want to shake a tail (feather)!



by Linden Wolbert

Header image by Agustin Munoz

Predive Click: “Ocean Eyes,” Billie Eilish 🎶🎶

DISCLAIMER: The following passage is likely fraught with bad ocean puns. I can’t kelp it. Over the years, I’ve steadily amassed a rather over-whale-ming “Mernacular,” consisting of ridiculous, nonsensical and sometimes painfully cheesy “mermisms” and invented words. You’ve been warned, my fine-finned friend! If you dare, read on! Okay. Now where to start? Oh yes. Childhood.

When I was little, never in a million years could I have fathomed I’d become a mythical creature for a living. A half-fish, half woman, freediving globe-trotter? Nope. Dolphin-itely wouldn’t have guessed this career path.  Growing up in Amish Country Pennsylvania, and like many kids in various regions of rural America in the early 80’s, we didn’t have cable television at my house for quite some time. PBS, therefore, was my go-to selection from the three channel options we had, outside of reading books and sitting in the yard watching bugs and birds with my binoculars and a magnifying glass. 

Marty Stauffer and Jacques Yves Cousteau were two of my favorite “television teachers,” but my absolute favorite was (and still is) Sir David Attenborough. In my mind, he narrates my life! It’s far more interesting to watch an ant walk by, say, on the kitchen counter carrying a crumb, with Sir David’s unmistakable voice giving a thoughtful play-by-play on the whole scene, even if just in your imagination. You should try it. Super fun.

Not exactly a stone’s throw away from where I grew up, the Atlantic seemed pretty far out of reach. Embarking to see the ocean once or twice a year (if I was lucky) generally entailed something like the following: Very little sleep the night before in anticipation of a multiple-hour car ride with my parents and sister, followed by excitedly peering out the back window of the car for signs of the sea. Over the course of a few hours, the scenery would slowly morph. Cow pastures and corn fields gave way to highways and toll roads, then gradually to marshes, bridges and finally sand dunes. The best part was rolling down the car windows and smelling the sea for the first time on approach. Deep inhale….ahhhhh! The best! A colorful array of carnival rides would peek over the horizon, towering over the boardwalk like a toy model in the distance. Then there was the smell of the boardwalk: hot tar in the sun, french fries and deep-fried funnel cake punctuated with brine, salt and sunscreen. I get giddy just thinking about it!

In summer, my family would occasionally have a vacation in New Jersey or Maryland at the beach, which to me, was the stuff of dreams. Being anywhere near the ocean made me completely lose my little mind. I perceived the sea then (as I still do today) as a place of slow-motion beauty and mystery waiting to be revealed. A place where fantastical creatures frolic through the waves, tucking themselves away silently behind sea fans, rocks and corals to hide from predators and unexpected visitors. Tide pools were treasure box portals full of infinite possibilities—like little windows offering a teaser of what lay below in the fathoms. Sea anemones, small fish, mussels, clams, and the occasional horseshoe crab delighted me to no end. 

Mermaid’s purses (skate and shark egg cases) were my favorite prize to collect from the shoreline. I would sit, entranced, watching the bubbles surface in the tidal zone after waves passed over the sand in retreat back to the sea. This was evidence of little critters digging their way to safety from cackling gulls and the plovers who’d run across the sand like adorable wind-up toys in formation. After body surfing until we were exhausted, my sister would cover me in a pile of damp sand, carving out the form of a mermaid tail around my legs as I lay beneath the cool weight of my new encasement. I’d sit there with a huge smile across my face, somehow comfortable in my temporary sandy cocoon of immobilization, until I had an itch on my nose.  In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that my sand tail would one day be replaced by a beautifully crafted, prosthetic mer-sterpiece created by a Hollywood spe-shell effects artist, but I suppose stranger things have happened. 

Taking The Plunge

So how did I go from the aforementioned sea squirt, to becoming a professional mermaid, you ask? Sure, I’d been to the Jersey shore in the summers. I loved to swim, a family trait. I loved taking photos, and capturing little things I’d see in nature. These passions evolved into the realization that I wanted to become a wildlife cinematographer and to share these things I loved so much, just as Cousteau and Attenborough had done for me. I also thought, “What better place to work than in nature and the outdoors?!” And so it was. 

In 2000, I began my undergrad at Emerson College in Boston and majored in film and environmental science. I worked as an RA (mother hen in the dorm), repaired old 16mm film cameras called Bolexes in the basement of the school, and ran a jumbotron camera at the local concert stadiums to help pay for my tuition. I made my first underwater 16mm film on a Bolex I placed inside a fish aquarium, and filmed it at the local Chinatown YMCA swimming pool. I was beside myself with excitement when the film was processed and there was actually an image! In 2003, I left Boston for Los Angeles and enrolled in the Emerson College Los Angeles Internship Program. I haven’t left since. 

I was hired as the Residence Director immediately upon graduation—which, unbeknownst to me, would be the last “real job” I would have to date. Before I left Emerson in 2004, I got my PADI Open Water certification and was practically inseparable from the water. I could hardly bear to be in an office once I experienced the kelp forests first hand and then traveled to Grand Cayman to help film a documentary about the sport of freediving. Again, my love of the water grew. 

While in Cayman, I tried a monofin for the first time, thanks to Canadian World Champion Mandy-Rae Cruickshank, and the rest is history! At that moment, a huge light bulb went off.  What if, instead of creating documentaries like everyone else, I taught kids about the ocean as a MERMAID? And just like that, I made my first big leap. I left my very comfortable position at Emerson to start my business. Suddenly, in my early 20’s, I found myself living in a room above the garage at my parents’ house. No promise of work and no idea how this would all pan out. It was liberating and horrifying all at once. As I would learn, when I take a leap, a net magically appears. The saying is true! Never, of course, in a way I could have predicted. 

Cover photo by Karl Shreeves (2009)

The PADI training agency hired me as an underwater SCUBA model, and I traveled the world and got paid to dive with them. A dream! Around that time, I traveled to Tokyo and became certified as an International AIDA Judge for the sport of freediving. I was obsessed with the sport, yet had no interest in competing, so this was perfect. I got to observe world class athletes setting unimaginable records, travel to exotic locations, and master my freediving techniques from the best possible coaches. Life news flash: Toto, I don’t think we’re in Amish country anymore.

Suddenly, I was a first-time business owner with an idea for which there was no existing business model. It was a huge learning curve. Here are some of the skill sets and areas I have had to do my best to learn and manage over the past decade to keep my mermaid business flourishing: Performer, Filmmaker, Special Effects Artist, Product Designer, Model, Quality Controller, Makeup Artist, Negotiator, Accountant, Seamstress, Educator, Musical Composer, Editor, Aquatic Athlete, Web Designer, Childhood Behavioral Expert, Set Designer, Social Media Expert, Storyteller, Wish Granter, Marine Biologist, Citizen Scientist, Writer, Conservationist, PR Specialist, Brand Ambassador, Producer, Underwater Stunt Double, Director, Professional Mermaid, andI’m certain I’m missing something, but….you get the picture. Needless to say, I have acquired quite the hat collection.  

This job has taught me more than any office position ever could have and has provided infinite rewards! Is it horrifying at times, both creatively and financially? Absolutely! Do I have days where I question myself and wonder, “Am I completely mad for doing all this?” Bloody right I do! But then I realized what happened;somewhere along the line, I accidentally became an Entrepremermaid. Yes, it’s a thing—Entrepremermaiding. Okay, so I made it up. Now I cannot imagine living life any other way.

Quite a Tail to Tell

My very first tail, or as it is now called, “Tail 1.0,” weighed 35 pounds/16 kg by the time it was completed. Its replica, known as “tail 2.0” and my current work (sea) horse, weighs in at just shy of 50 pounds, but is neutrally buoyant (it neither sinks nor floats). Craziness, I know. The sea stars aligned when I decided I must make my first tail. Magically, a man by the name of Allan Holt was delivered into my sphere of existence thanks to our mutual friend Adam. Allan wanted to make an underwater music video, and Adam suggested he speak with me about the logistics. I had no idea until our first meeting over dinner, when Allan and I sat down to discuss his music video,  that he was a Hollywood special effects artist. He also happens to be one of the kindest people I know. He immediately expressed interest in helping me with my crazy dream: to create a realistic, swimmable, one-of-a-kind mermaid tail. Within a few months, we began the process.

Photo by
Photo by
Photo by

It all started with a fiberglass mold of my body from the waist down, to make a duplicate of my legs. On top of my new, “fake legs,” we then took over 30 pounds of sculpting clay and began hand-sculpting each individual scale. The design of the tail fluke was next, which I had decided would be in the shape of a crescent. Why? Well, I had thought long and hard about how I wanted my tail to look. When I thought of traditional mermaid tails, I envisioned a dolphin-shaped fluke, or something similar to that of a whale tail. Deciding on a crescent shape was two-fold for me. First of all, I wanted to be unique. The shape should be something that, even if you only saw the silhouette of it from underwater, you’d know, “that’s Mermaid Linden.” 

Secondly, the fastest fish in the world have flukes that are similar to that shape….think: sharks, sailfish, swordfish, tuna, etc. I used a method which has since been coined as “biomimicry,” which means to be inspired by something in nature to make it function well for human use. Well, in this case, it was for mermaid use! And thank Poseidon, it worked. 

Over seven months and several thousand “sand dollars” later, we co-created my first born—my baby—Tail 1.0! After hundreds (or perhaps thousands?) of hours of clay sculpting, fiberglass-laying, bondo-slathering labor and love, that tail lasted me for almost a decade and swam in oceans, rivers, lochs, and pools around the world. It is amazing where that tail got to swim, and luckily for me, I got to experience those things because of it. Not only was this tail beautiful, sleek, and fitted perfectly to my form, it was unique. It was FAST. When I took it in the water, divers and strong swimmers with fins even had trouble keeping up. I learned quickly that unless we were filming something to demonstrate speed, I needed to intentionally slooooooow doooooown in this piece of fancy diving equipment. I’d call the Tail 1.0 a complete success! Since then, we have created two other tails from that same fiberglass mold. Tail 2.0, which is my current go-to silicone tail. Tail 3.0, which is made of a lightweight foam latex material, is a replica of its silicone siblings, and is intended strictly for land use and terrestrial performances.

Photo by

Before tail 1.0 was even complete, I had begun getting bookings and “merformance” inquiries through word of mouth, thanks to people being aware that I was constructing a tail for almost a year. Here in Los Angeles, people love to have something at their party or event that nobody else has ever had. In the early 2000’s, nobody had heard of live mermaid performers for parties who actually swam. Sure, there were Ariel impersonators in long, green sequin skirts, but folks could scarcely believe there was some woman in her 20’s—a freediver—who donned a 35-pound silicone prosthetic tail and either taught your kids about the ocean during their birthday pool party, or swam as the centerpiece of your exclusive evening soiree in Beverly Hills with your celebrity friends. One party led to 10 others, and my client list became rather star-studded, rather quickly. 

One publication eventually deemed me, “The Mermaid to the Stars,” because so many of my clients were A-listers or on the silver screen, big-name directors or a big shot in the music or fashion industries. This was all rather unexpected to the girl from Amish Country. When I started this whole idea, the motivation for me was to teach children about our oceans, their inhabitants, and how important ocean conservation is. Little did I know I would additionally find myself in so many unexpected and unusual booking/ performance scenarios. 

Talking with Jeff Goldblum. Photo by Rupert Clague

Some of my “merformances” have included: Underwater Ring Bearer at a SCUBA wedding in La Jolla Cove, weekly swim playdate mermaid for the who’s who’s children of Hollywood, underwater stunt woman for various commercials, films and music videos, cameo mermaid performer in feature films, mermaid trainer for “Dive Bar” up in Sacramento, CA, among others, official Mermaid “Edutainer” at the world’s largest fair, the LA County Fair, with my own stage, big screen, and shell throne . . . it goes on and on. Let it be known that while I am absolutely a people person, I love working with kids the most. And this brings me to, fins down, my favorite type of booking: Wishes. 

When the Make-A-Wish Foundation first contacted me over a decade ago, I could barely get through all the nights and days until I’d get to meet the little girl who had made her mermaid wish known to the “Wish Fairies” who subsequently contacted me. This particular child wished to meet a mermaid, and then go to the Bahamas with her very own mermaid tail, so she could swim like a mermaid, too. After this first wish experience, I felt a sense of full-heartedness which was previously unmatched. I’m now convinced there is nothing quite like seeing a child’s face light up who has been through treatments and life-threatening circumstances for months, or sometimes years until that very moment. And, in that mer-ment, they forget all of that—the pain, the discomfort, the fluorescent-lighting of their hospital room, feeding tubes and blood tests—and they find themselves in a sort of suspended dream. 

Photo by Bloomberg Businessweek

As a highly empathic person, being part of that experience in any small capacity is life-rendering. Dozens of wishes later, I never could have dreamed I would be performing a wish for my very own family. Reese, now 13, is my one and only niece. She has been battling leukemia since age 7, and at the time of my writing this, is about to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Knowing now from first-hand experience how hard it is on the kids themselves, as well as the families of ill children, to go through these types of circumstances, makes it even more important to help fulfill these wishes. I know how they feel. So while my true passion is creating Ocean Edutainment for kids, I can say with absolute certainty that participating in Wishes is the most fulfilling, perspective-giving facet of my work as a mermaid. 

In A Mermaid Minute

Speaking of wishes, as luck would have it, while in the shower one day, I dreamed up what I thought was a brilliant idea for a children’s Ocean Educational series. It seems when I wash my hair and massage my brain (coral), it gives me great ideas in reciprocation—how kind of it! It was a simple premise: Each episode would be one minute about a topic in the oceans: an animal, phenomenon, or habitat. I would title this action-packed 60 seconds of ocean magic, Mermaid Minute

With zero budget, equipped only with sheer determination and unabashed passion for sharing the beauty of our oceans with my “little sea fans,” I managed to scrape together my first season of Mermaid Minute and post it on YouTube thanks to the help of some wonderful friends and family. I borrowed some lighting equipment, tripod, microphone and an HD video camera (which at this point was still on painstakingly annoying Mini-DV tapes) and purchased a heap of green felt from the fabric store to create a makeshift green screen to post in front of in my tail so I appeared to be sitting on the “beach.” 

Remember, I’d quit my one and only full-time job after college to pursue my mermaid career and moved into the room above the garage at my parents’ house as an adult child to start my mermaid business. It was the best thing I ever did! But yeah, not exactly the easiest thing as a grown adult. My neighbor helped me fine-tune my non-linear editing skills on Final Cut Pro, and I was off to the races. Over a decade later, Mermaid Minute has millions of views from all around the world, and season 2 overfunded on Kickstarter. Teachers began reaching out and using it in classrooms, and parents of homeschooling students employed it in their lessons. Friends with kids all told me how their children loved it, and to this day, it is the thing I am most proud of ever creating. All of my skills and passions are encompassed in it: Storytelling, cinematography, beautiful underwater footage, animals, science, natural history, music, sound effects, humor, and INSPIRING KIDS! What a joy it is when I complete editing an episode and post it up on YouTube!

About a decade ago, mainly because of Mermaid Minute’s success, I became involved with the Reef Check Foundation, an organization which has trained thousands of volunteer citizen scientists to count and track the changes of keystone species on coral and rocky reefs around the world. I had initially heard of Reef Check through a Howard and Michele Hall documentary I loved, “Coral Reef Adventure,” and was delighted when Reef Check contacted me. This eventually led to a position as a board member, and today I serve as the Co-Chair of the Board. 

Through the years working with Reef Check, I have met some truly amazing people who are like-minded in the world of ocean conservation, diving, and exploring our seven seas. Russ Lesser, the long-time former president of Body Glove, was one of those people. Thanks to Russ, I began a partnership with Body Glove in 2013 which led to an amazing opportunity: designing my own signature line of mermaid-inspired swim products for kids and adults. Yet another feather in the cap—er—scale on the tail of my Entrepremermaiding journey, I learned all about manufacturing, product design, prototype testing, marketing, and even inventing. 

Love Bucket Photo

I am so grateful and lucky that Russ saw such potential in me and my little brand. He said that the thing that really sold him on it all was my Mermaid Minute series. This meant the world to me! Since the inception of the Mermaid Linden by Body Glove line, our products have been sold in some of the world’s largest retailers, and our monofins are top-rated in their category of aquatics. I dreamed up the world’s first foldable monofin, which came to market last summer. Seeing kids, and now adults, around the world experiencing swimming with a monofin for the first time with my signature crescent fluke design makes me pinch myself. 

“How exactly did this all happen?” I sometimes ask myself this question. One could say the sea stars aligned for me time and time again, but I know how many challenges I’ve faced. Anyone who has tried their hand at self-employment in a creative space knows it isn’t easy. Back in the early days of my mermaiding career, I was the only one in Los Angeles doing what I did. Over time, tail makers started popping up. Other men and women saw that this could be a viable career, side hustle or a fun hobby, and other performance companies and solo “mers” began appearing online in social media pages and forums by the hundreds. A noticeable upward tick in the trend of mermaids in pop culture became very apparent. 

Photo by Courtney Pearson

Nobody is really sure where or why this happened, but within the span of a few years, mermaids were the new unicorns in the world of mythical trending. Mermaid mugs, greeting cards, t-shirts, and other mer-related chachki became commonplace in stores across the country, and soon the world. Instagram exploded with new profiles and accounts of “Mermaid (insert name),” and “Merman (insert another name),” with people showing off their newest monofins, shell tops, tails, and “mersonas” (mermaid or merman persona). Scores of others bought tails, created websites, and suddenly mermaids were popping up like mushrooms, vying for the same bookings and gigs in all corners of the world. 

Before you knew it, Mermaid Conventions became a thing! The mermaid trend had arrived, and it still shows no sign of slowing down. Sales and projected trends for mermaid tails and accessories continue to rise. Even the SCUBA and Freediving world caught the wave at last, with several training agencies now offering Mermaid Specialty courses, where men and women can learn everything from proper movement in a tail, to breath hold techniques, to finding your “mersona.” 

Photo by Ric Frazier Productions

It has been astounding watching the “Mermaid Economy” blossom since it all began for me in the early 2000’s. I remember looking all over for any clue on how to design a mermaid tail back then online, and there was zilch. Now you can find all manner of tails, from lightweight fabric tails to heavy silicone custom tails like my own. Extra flukes and fins? You’ve got it! Companies like Mertailor, FinFolk Productions, Merbella Studios and countless others create extraordinarily beautiful tails in all forms, budgets, and colors. Some even light up! The future of mermaiding is bright, and it’s also neat that nowadays, when I tell people my job title, they don’t always look at me like I have an octopus tentacle growing out of my forehead anymore. “Oh yeeeeah! I have a friend who’s a mermaid, too!” is the common response now. 

What a cool time to be a mermaid!

Additional Resources

Mermaid Linden’s YouTube Channel

Mermaid Linden’s Mermaid Minute

The Diver Medic Webinar: Linden Wolbert – How Edutainment plants seeds of Hope Podcast

Reef Check Foundation

Make-A-Wish Foundation

With a BA in Film and Science (underwater cinematography) from Emerson College in Boston, Linden shares the life aquatic with others via underwater wildlife videos and live mermaid performances. Mermaid Minute, her educational ocean web series for kids, “edutains” young viewers about an array of animals and sea life. Her passion is reaching as many children as possible with her message of conservation, education and exploration thereby transforming them into our world’s youngest ocean ambassadors. As a PADI Master Scuba Diver, underwater model and full-time professional mermaid through her company, Mermaids in Motion LLC, Linden would spend all of her time in the water if her hands didn’t get so pruny! A long time International AIDA Freediving Judge, she has traveled the globe to officiate world records that span far beneath the ocean’s surface. Linden serves as Co-Chair of the board of Reef Check Foundation, a co-host of the Webby Award-winning Deeperblue Podcast, and a Volunteer Mermaid for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.


Resurrecting a Ghost: The Launch of Ghost Diving USA




By Katie McWilliams. Photos courtesy of Ghost Diving USA unless noted. Header image by Jim Babor

Ghost Diving, formerly Ghost Fishing, has officially arrived in the United States. Naming Southern California as home for the United States chapter is not an expansion to a new territory; instead, it is a warm welcome home after a long journey. 

Ghost Fishing first arrived in Southern California in the mid 2000s spearheaded by Karim and Heather Hamza. Their team, a group of volunteer technical divers, set out to improve the health and viability of the Southern California waters. The team started with the Infidel, a sunken squid fishing vessel near Catalina Island in 45 m/150 ft. They diligently worked to clean the Infidel which took almost two years. This victory was huge for their effort. Sadly, due to lack of funding, they were unable to continue other projects. Despite this hardship and some time away from their pursuit of the ghosts, Karim and Heather are back and more motivated than ever. 

Heather’s passion is deeply rooted in her mission to advocate for animals. This passion has helped her to push through and focus on advocating for the animals that are often unseen. The marine life that goes undetected but is ever threatened in our oceans. These are the animals Heather makes very certain to see. Her passion and love for them is palpable; it radiates from her like the warmth of a sunny day. It beckons you to join her cause. This is what keeps the fire alive in her heart for Ghost Diving. She knows that she can turn the collection of nets and her experiences into educational opportunities. Heather’s aspirations for Ghost Diving USA include continuing to educate others regarding the threat of abandoned and discarded fishing gear, seeking legislative solutions to the problem, and ultimately, building an informed and empowered community that takes care of our oceans.

Karim thrives in situations that require precision and accuracy. He explains that for him, this new era of Ghost Diving is providing a fresh opportunity to build a community of elite divers that share a passion for and commitment to a great cause. He has the knowledge and experience to help train and mentor divers along their path to becoming ghost divers and intends to give all he can to the process. He wants to bring to fruition teams of divers who trust not only each other but also the process, as well as high training standards and passion for the cause. As Karim described all the things that a ghost diver needs to be, one of the original team members immediately sprang to mind, Jim Babor. 

Jim recounted the arduous process that is becoming a ghost diver and being active with projects. He started with the project as a safety diver. The deep team would come up from the dive to the nets, and Jim would ascend with them through their scheduled decompression. He then progressed into his technical training and began photographing and documenting the work the divers were doing. Jim shared something that truly captures the essence of the passion needed to be a ghost diver. When asked about some of his most memorable incidents, he recounted the amazing experience of rescuing live animals by cutting them out of nets they were trapped in.. When asked what it felt like to cut an animal out of the net and watch it swim away, Jim was simply at a loss for words. We spoke on the phone and despite Jim’s reflective pause as he gathered his thoughts, it was apparent that the experience resonates with him on a deep level rooted in compassion. For Jim, the Ghost Diving USA launch brings his commitment and journey as a ghost diver full circle.  

Helping to lead Ghost Diving USA into the future is scientific coordinator Norbert Lee, Scuba instructor, marine biologist, and active technical diver. To speak to Norbert is to feel his can-do attitude and realize his aspirations are rooted in protecting and fostering the growth of the underwater world while educating the community about ocean conservation. More importantly, his strong sense of commitment to the team effort shines through everything. In asking Norbert about his journey to becoming the US chapter coordinator, he cited the significance of the mentorship he has and continues to receive. This mentorship comes from a variety of sources including Pascal van Erp, the Hamzas and Jim Babor. 

Norbert Lee’s goal is to collect data about the environmental impact of ghost nets and how their removal impacts the health and growth of a given area. By collecting this data, he is confident he can help to educate the community about the true impact of abandoned fishing gear. He does not want to stop with nets. He wants to help recover lobster pots and other fishing apparatus that continue to catch fish after being left behind. Through educating the community, he does not want to villainize or chastise commercial fishing but rather to build working, symbiotic relationships with fishermen. By working together, Norbert hopes to have the nets removed before they do irreversible damage. 

The Founding of Ghost Diving

Pascal van Erp has a commanding grasp on the issue of abandoned fishing gear. As the founder of Ghost Diving. Pascal’s passion has built a formidable and forward-thinking movement. Speaking to Pascal is a unique experience. He exudes a quiet confidence that only time and experience can build. In researching his work to prepare for his visit and subsequent presentations, it became quite apparent that Pascal is consistent in his message. The message is that Ghost Diving breathes new life into abandoned nets that can be recycled or upcycled. To reuse and upcycle the nets means to actively contribute to the health of the planet for today and more importantly, future generations. 

Next, Pascal emphasizes Ghost Diving is dangerous. He explains that the dangers are not always apparent. Instead, they lurk in the shadows cast by ghost nets. Team dynamics are not only critical but a matter of life and death. Pascal frequently mentions the significance of trust. The ability to trust teammates to maintain composure in the face of adversity. Trusting that if something goes wrong, they can and will continue to problem solve. Trusting that they can and will save your life. The team must always perform at the highest levels. It is critical that the dive is executed according to plan and that the procedure is applied with absolute fidelity. The nets do not discriminate between human life and marine life. They are not forgiving. A diver can meet an untimely fate in the grasp of a ghost net. 

Ghost Diving USA provides a unique and exciting opportunity by planting its roots here. With support from Zen Dive Co., ghost divers will have access to equipment, standard gasses and service that will meet all their needs while ensuring the quality and reliability of these resources. While funding issues had previously plagued Ghost Fishing, the Ghost Diving partnership with Healthy Seas along with other community sponsors helps to ensure the security of the critical funding that makes these projects possible. 

Launching Ghost Diving USA

Zen Dive Co. hosted a launch event for Ghost Diving USA on Thursday, April 28. The energy in the building was electric. Everyone was thrilled to network, build community, and work towards supporting Ghost Diving USA in any possible way. Karim opened the evening by describing the net diving mission that the ghost divers had gone on earlier in the day. He explained in detail that the Moody, a Wickes class destroyer, sits at approximately 45m/150 ft. Conditions at sea were challenging. Spring is a rough season in Southern California. Variable winds cause large swells, and upwellings bring up life giving nutrients. Unfortunately, both phenomena significantly reduce visibility. This dive was no exception. Karim described a thick green cloud in the shallower depths cutting visibility to 4.5–6 m/15–20 ft. This green cloud blocked out all ambient light as the ghost divers descended, and then cutting the nets only made visibility worse. Essentially, there was no ambient light, and visibility quickly became next to zero. The ghost divers were forced to rely upon the light they brought with them. Despite the challenges, the net clean-up was successful, but the work is far from done. The ghost divers will have to return to remove more net. 

Pascal made a brief presentation about the problem of ghost nets. It was incredible to experience a room full of people feeling compelled to act, and everyone looking for the way they could best support the mission. Veronika Mikos of Healthy Seas helped to drive the point home when she explained that through partnerships with organizations such as Bracenet and Aquafil, the recycling and upcycling of nets can help to significantly reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, as the ability to recycle nets and the products made from nets grows, they become sustainable and renewable. The yarn made from the nets can be processed infinitely and never loses quality. 

The most precious resource to any of these projects is manpower. Volunteers. People willing to train hard, think of the many versus the one and ultimately focus on safety. A ghost diver is a technical diver that has successfully completed a series of training workshops that help to best prepare them for what they will experience on a net retrieval dive. The workshops also serve to build team cohesion. Pascal and Karim both explain that the need to work with technical divers is not to be exclusionary. Ghost divers need to be able to handle any situation that may arise at any moment. Technical divers are trained to do exactly that. 

For recreational divers and non-divers alike, there is a place for everyone. Ghost divers cannot do what they do without support. Jim shared with me that his son, middle-school-aged at the time, used to volunteer as surface support. He and a friend would help to bring nets onto the boat and then search through them meticulously for any trapped marine life that could be released back into the ocean. Not only did his son help to raise awareness through multiple award-winning science projects, but he also became a diver crediting his experience helping with ghost nets. The Hamzas and Norbert hope to grow Ghost Diving USA to include recreational limit projects that allow for the training and participation of recreational divers. 

Ghost Diving USA is hitting the ground running. If you are looking for a way to get involved, a great place to start is to follow them on their social media pages. They are on Facebook and Instagram as Ghost Diving USA or @GhostDivingUSA. If you would like to inquire about the application process, you can reach the USA chapter via email at

You can also act right now. Learn about what abandoned fishing gear does to our oceans and talk to others about it. Through raising awareness, you can help remind people that while the surface of the ocean is beautiful, it is what is below the surface that desperately needs our help.

Photo by Sean Farkas

Additional Resources

Ghost Diving International:
Healthy Seas:
Alert Diver:Ghost Fishing by Michael Menduno. The story of Heather Hamza and her team (2014).

Katie McWilliams is an avid diver, spending every spare moment she can in the water. Currently completing her divemaster and training for her technical pass, she wants to not only further her education and ability to explore the ocean but help with the training of divers. Specifically, Katie wants to focus on spreading awareness of how we can help the health and conservation of the oceans and marine life. Outside of diving, Katie works in moderate/severe special education. She enjoys reading, exercise, off-roading, camping and spending time with her husband, family and friends. 

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Education, Conservation, and Exploration articles for the diving obsessed. Subscribe to our monthly blog and get our latest stories and content delivered to your inbox every Thursday.

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by Linden Wolbert

So what is it exactly that mermaids “do” when they work a booking or do a “merformance?” Well, the answer is, more things than you can ever fathom! If I could only name all the funny, amazing, silly, scary and mermazing experiences I’ve had in a mermaid tail over the course of my career! Whale, if you insist…I could share a few examples…


Since my original reason for becoming a mermaid was to teach people, namely children, about the importance of protecting, exploring, and learning about our oceans, this category of performance is in my top 3! With this type of “merformance,” a mermaid is generally on land: in a shell throne, on a stage, in a classroom, or at a museum. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get my own stage with a screen. Since one of my favorite modalities for education is using video, I love editing together videos about the local aquatic life (when applicable) and showing it to the children before I am revealed in mermaid form. 

Then I come out (usually I’m wheeled or carried out; I can’t walk in a tail, after all!) and answer the many questions about the creatures and habitats that the children ask. Typically, there are also a LOT of questions about mermaids, which I adore! Hearing and answering kids’ queries is one of the sweetest and most enjoyable experiences I have as a mermaid! I get to be quick on my fins. I had a residency for several years at the LA county Fair where I “edutained” thousands of children and families. It was an awesome feeling. The eyes of the children in the audience would light up as I was rolled out in my shell throne, and they excitedly raised their hands in the air with the hope of getting to ask me a question. Meet and greets are the best….these kids are just the SWEETEST!


We’ve all seen mermaids swimming in tanks or aquariums for many decades. In films, commercials, and at roadside attractions, they always bring that extra sparkle. Early pioneers included Esther Williams, the “Million Dollar Mermaid,” and the famed Weeki Wachee Mermaids of the Florida Springs, who each set a unique precedent for aquatic performances forever more! Naturally, this trend continued into the Tiki era after the war with cornerstone venues like Ft. Lauderdale’s world famous “Wreck Bar,” which, to this day, features porthole windows inside the bar, looking directly into the hotel pool. This particular attraction was brought back to life over 15 years ago, after temporary extinction, by none other than the bombastic and beautiful Medusirena: The Fire Eating Mermaid. Marina still choreographs and runs shows there today to delighted and tipsy audiences. 

At present, there are aquariums, restaurants, museums, resorts, malls and casinos all over the world who have regular mermaid shows and performances, adding to the magic of their offerings. From Singapore to Vegas to Paris to Los Angeles, these types of shows have enchanted audiences for years. Performers in intricate tails swirl about underwater in freeform or choreographed fashion, generally on breath hold, surrounded by fish, sea turtles and sharks in an enclosed aquarium habitat. This type of interactive merformance is more challenging than one would imagine. You really can’t see much, and everything is blurry. The water is sometimes chilly, making breath hold a real challenge. Stinging eyes and sinuses, paired with ear infections, are definitely a thing! Don’t be fooled. We’re smiling and making it look effortless, but we have foot cramps, burning eyes and sinuses, and are trying not to run into creatures swimming straight for us in the tank. That giant turtle, for example. “Why does he keep swimming right toward me?!?” 

A decade ago, “Dive Bar” opened in Sacramento, CA, where I was honored to train the mermaids and mermen before they opened to the public. The lively venue features a beautifully illuminated and prop-adorned tank which runs the length of the bar, suspended high above the floor for onlookers to peer up, mouths agape, and beer in hand. It’s pretty mermazing. If you’re in the Sacramento area, you should dolphinitely check it out!


Summertime is chock full of this very popular type of merformance! When the weather is warm, and people’s backyard pools are open, the mermaids come out in pods! Yes, children’s birthdays are a staple in any pro mermaid’s arsenal of services. Understanding, of course, that multi-million dollar liability insurance coverage is imperative, and lifeguard first aid certification is also key. Safety comes first. 

There are times when I am swimming in a pool and entertaining more than 30 children for more than two hours at a time (don’t worry, there are always additional lifeguards). And, believe it or not, I LOVE it. Is it exhausting? Yes. It is magical? Also, YES! This is where it’s excellent to have skills in projecting one’s voice, being skilled at commanding attention of little “sea fans,” as I call them, and having the patience of a saint. Each child will beg for the mermaid’s constant attention, but the birthday child(ren) of honor must remain the central focus, all while engaging the rest of the kids for the entire duration of the event. Not an easy feat, especially when you are wearing a tail and parents are watching like eagles. 

I bring a treasure chest full of goodies and activities for in-water, and an inflatable shell throne for storytelling, photos and eco-glitter tattoos while out of the water. I bring my monofins for the kids to experience, and provide all manner of games and interactive fun to keep little mers engaged. I have a playlist of songs on a waterproof speaker that livens up the vibe, and helps me keep track of how long the merformance has run. Lots of stories and tricks…’s not your ordinary kid’s party princess experience….trrrust me! And, inevitably, I weave ocean edutainment into every event. It’s my job ☺


Sharks and Dolphins and Whales, oh my! Open ocean mermaiding is always a riveting experience.  Working in an environment where both the elements and animals are unpredictable, you never know what will happen. I’ve been mermaiding in the Atlantic, Pacific, the Coral Sea, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Sea of Cortez and beyond. I have been surrounded by Great Whites (in a cage, of course) off Isla Guadalupe, swept over by manta rays in Kona, Hawaii, been stung in the eye by golden jellyfish in Palau’s famous Jellyfish Lake (don’t believe them, some can still sting a little bit!), dwarfed by Whale Sharks off Isla Mujeres, kissed by a manatee in the Bahamas, and enveloped by schools of Mola Molas off the California coast.

Each experience holds its own special memories and challenges. One of the downsides of true mermaiding is that mermaids don’t wear eye apparatus! Masks and goggles are not exactly “in style” in the mermaid world…so vision is compromised. This does make things interesting when one is diving with, for example, sharks. Big, gray blurs are gliding by…it’s hard to say how closely. Depth perception is all but lost, and this includes estimating distance to and from the surface of the water while holding ones’ breath and diving several tens of feet down and back up again. Cue internal mermaid dialogue: “How long till I reach the coral reef below? Okay, I’ve equalized my ears four times already….I think that’s the camera man over there. Yes! I think those are his bubbles. Getting closer, OOH! I’m here! 

The reef is suddenly kind of in focus. Okay, that blur over there looks like a big fish…or is that a small shark? I’ll just glide over here next to this colorful blur that must be a sea fan or coral head. I’m sure it’ll look pretty on camera. Keep smiling, relax your face…okay….Oooh! I think that’s a school of fish around here! FUN!!! Hi guys!!!! Okay, do a graceful turn, head back toward the brightly colored thingy….okay….getting ready to head back up to the surface now, diaphragm is starting to contract…..keep smiling….now turn for the surface. Kicking slowly up….slowly….When can I take another breath? Hmmm….hard to say…now? Nope…not yet….now? The surface seems to be getting closer….Still no. Keep kicking…keep smiling, don’t rush….ignore your diaphragm and that urge to breathe. Elegant kicks, not too much knee bend….begin to exhale before your surface so you can take a precious breath….still kicking…still not there….releasing bubbles….BOOM!!!! Surface…BREATHE! Ahhh, I can see clearly again! The 50 pound silicone tail propels me anywhere I wish for it to. And repeat….


When I began my mermaid career, I never could have dreamed of some of the people I would be performing for and that they would become my repeat clients! As it turns out, however, celebrities are just people, too. And, to be honest, I get more excited and “sea star struck” about seeing ocean creatures in the wild for the first time, so it works out great for everyone. When I’m welcomed into [fill in the A-list celebrity]’s home, and subsequently their swimming pool before their big soiree begins, it’s sometimes surreal. People I’ve watched for years on TV or the silver screen are suddenly clients who text me for parties at their mansions, or to do playdates for their children and their friends on weekdays. 

I have a long list of clients whom I cannot name, because non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are very common here in Tinseltown. I am also notorious for not recognizing famous people. I will leave an event with my wrangler (assistant who carries me, helps me out, and often drives me home if I can’t see well enough after chlorinated swimming) and they will say, “Holy carp! I can’t believe so-and-so took their picture with you and Tweeted it!” and I have no idea who they’re talking about until they show me on IMDB. I think this may be why they keep hiring me…because I genuinely don’t know or care who they are. 

The Hollywood elite’s pools are usually rather extravagant; underwater speakers that play music, impeccably heated to my contract minimum of 85 F degrees, waterfalls, grottoes and LED color-changing underwater lights adorning the water at night…and my favorite: saline chemistry (my eyeballs say thank you)! What people don’t realize is one of the hazards of not wearing a mask or goggles in a pool, is your eyes never know what will hit them. There are times when, at the end of a long performance, I cannot see clearly enough to drive home, thus the ever-necessary wrangler/assistant. Pool chemistry is a make-or-break. Also, if the pool isn’t up to temperature, it can be pretty awful, especially during a nighttime event when there is no sun to warm you up. And yes, there is a clause in my contract that states I may exit the pool at any time if it is not up to the contract minimum temperature. My favorite clients know this, and heat it to a balmy 90F+ for me, and they will remark, “I heated it up real nice and warm for you this time, Mermaid Linden!” I certainly do appreciate that, thank you very much!


This category swims fin-in-fin with Hollywood parties in a tangential way. I have appeared in music videos, television commercials and even a few feature films over the years either as a mermaid or an underwater stunt double. A while back, I was called to appear as a mermaid in a pool scene of the remake of Billionaire Boys Club, starring Taron Egerton, Ansel Elgort and Cary Ewles (my childhood crush, who played the role of Westley in The Princess Bride) and Kevin Spacey. 

Of course, I knew I could die happy if I were appearing in a film also starring the Dread Pirate Roberts, so I said, ever-enthusiastically, “Yes!” to the opportunity. I filmed a whole underwater scene in the pool with Egerton, which sadly ended up on the cutting room floor. I also sat by the pool in a party scene at a pool high in the Hollywood Hills, flapping my tail so hard, it cracked the polycarbonate fluke inside of it midway through the shoot. I felt it happen, and was devastated. The cost of the repair ended up eclipsing the entire pay for the shoot, but such is life with a silicone prosthetic tail. It required major surgery. But….Cary Ewles!!! And I made it into the trailer. 

I’ll also never forget how the news broke during the shoot that David Bowie had died. As an homage, the directors scored the pool scene with Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” Another very cool experience was being underwater stunt double to music star Avril Lavigne for her hit song and music video Head Above Water.” I had to wear a flowy dress, high-heeled boots and a rather complicated wig. I jumped repeatedly into the pool, swirling about in the heavy dress fabric and clunky boots (not easy, I might add) while trying to obscure my face with my arms and the wig. The video turned out beautifully, and nobody knew it was me!

No matter what type of event or performance I’m booked for, I always learn something, meet new people, and create new memories. One day, I must write a book about it all….and there is so much more to come!

By Faith Brownlee

Are you fin-trigued by mermaiding? Check out some of the links below to get started, sourced by myself, a long-time mermaid YouTuber specializing in growing the mermaid community through my product reviews! 


If you want to be inspired and watch/listen to/read about mermaids both real and fictional, look no further than some of my personal favourites!

Everyday Mermaid Podcast

Courtney Mermaid YouTube Channel

Fins Magazine

H2O Just Add Water



Some of my top recommendations for tails, monofins and more!


Perfect for beginners!


A great variety of tails for any type of mermaid!

Shop Vancouver Mermaid   

Custom and premade tails and gear for living life #somermaid


Monofins used by mermaids for years!


Education/Professional Development:

Mermaiding can take many forms – here are some great virtual and in-person training opportunities to take you from beginner to pro!

Beginner Mermaid Tail Safety – Haley Mermaid

LA Mermaid School Sheroes Mermaid Entertainment 

Mermaid Dream Retreats/Experiences Mermaid Lila

So You Want to be a Mermaid? –  Raina/HFX mermaid



Dive on into the mermaid community! Meet and learn from those who have the same niche passion of swimming and working in mermaid tails!


California Mermaid Convention

Mermaid Mania Facebook Group

The Mernetwork Forum

Faith is 23 and lives in Vancouver Canada. She has been a mermaid since 2014 and has a following of over 30k subscribers on her YouTube channel where she passionately shares about her hobby of swimming in mermaid tails! Between amassing over 40 mermaid tails and running her local mermaid group Mermaids of BC, she’s thoroughly invested in the community and always wants to bring new people in. Thankfully, her family and boyfriend Bryson are extremely supportive and have been known to join her in her mermaid shenanigans. 

Her human skills involve lifeguarding, swim instructions and event management as well as playing the bass. You can find her anywhere on social media as @nerdmaidfaith 


Photo (top) by Courtney Pearson. Portrait photo by Maro Moments Photography.