Monster Week was the best week ever for Animal Planet. The highest rated show was Mermaids: The Body Found, a fake documentary about the discovery of a supposedly real mermaid found in a whale beaching. They even set up a website (believeinmermaids.com) with a fake domain seizure by the Department of Justice and Homeland Security. It’s not until the end of the movie that they fess up. A disclaimer reads: “Though certain events in this film are fictional, Navy SONAR tests have been directly implicated in whale beachings. “The Bloop” is a real phenomenon. There is still debate about what it may be …” The Bloop is an ultra-low frequency detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997.
“The film is science fiction, using science as a springboard into imagination,” explains the press release.
As the crescendo to Monster Week, a weeklong network programming stunt airing from May 21 to May 28, Mermaids: The Body Found is a story about evolutionary possibility grounded in a radical scientific theory – the Aquatic Ape Theory, which claims that humans had an aquatic stage in our evolutionary past. While coastal flooding millions of years ago turned some of our ancestors inland, is it possible that one group of our ancestors didn’t retreat from water but rather went in deeper? Could they have ventured farther into sea out of necessity and to find food? The Aquatic Ape Theory makes it possible to believe that while we evolved into terrestrial humans, our aquatic relatives turned into something strangely similar to the fabled mermaid. As evidence that humans once evolved into aquatic creatures, the Aquatic Ape Theory cites some of the striking differences between man and other primates and the many features we share with marine mammals, including the following:
Webbing between fingers (other primates don’t have this)
Subcutaneous fat (insulating from cold water)
Control over breath (humans can hold breath up to 20 minutes, longer than any other terrestrial animal)
Loss of body hair (hair creates drag in water)
Instinctive ability to swim (human babies are able to do this)>
A highly developed brain, which depends on nutrients provided by seafood
NOAA is being flooded with calls asking about mermaids! Either they still don’t realize this was a hoax or they think it’s a real conspiracy. NOAA has written a post confirming there’s no such thing as mermaids (link).
Animal Planet is airing new footage in a sequel called Mermaids: The New Evidence.
Watch Mermaids: The Body Found: