Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mermaids don't really exist...Or do they?

We heard that there were some real mermaids that lived in one of the springs that manatees lived in and these springs were not too far from where we were staying! We had to see this for ourselves! We jumped in the car and headed to Weeki Wachee Springs. We got to the springs and guess what? We really did see real mermaids!

These girls are trained to wear a tail and swim underwater. They have been trained by a former Navy man who trained SEALS to swim underwater in World War II. His name is Newton Perry. Newton then had a vision for a new business. He had experimented with a free-flowing air hose for underwater breathing.

He built an 18-seat theatre into the limestone at the edge of a spring and recruited pretty young girls to swim underwater. He taught them to smile and breathe with his new air hose — while underwater.

They are amazing! One mermaid held her breath for 2min and 47 seconds! They do ballet under water. We got to meet them and learn about how they do their "mermaid" job. They told us that during cold winter days manatees will sometimes swim into their springs and play with them. (I wonder what manatees think of these strange underwater creatures. Do the manatees think they are "manmaids", half manatee and half human?)

The Seminole Indians named the spring "Weeki Wachee," which means "little spring" or "winding river." The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found. Each day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 72-degree (all the time) water bubbles up out of subterranean caverns. Deep in the spring, the surge of the current is so strong that it can knock a scuba divers mask off. The basin of the spring is 100 feet wide with limestone sides and there, where the mermaids swim, 16 to 20 feet below the surface, the current runs a strong five miles per hour. It's quite a feat for a mermaid to stay in one place in such a current.

We went on a nature tour (private because no one was there) and went searching for manatee's. We didn't see any but saw a lot of other beautiful nature and learned about the springs.

Imagine seeing "The Little Mermaid" performed underwater by "real" mermaids!

In the summer you can even swim with the mermaids. They also have a mermaid camp. They just became a state park about a year ago so the prices are very reasonable. I think we paid $5.00 for adults and kids are free!


Jennifer said...

Amazing! That is a job I would have loved to do when I was younger.

btw: glad you are back to posting full time.

blessedmomto8 said...

How stinkin cool was that? My kids would go APE!

carlisle clan conversation... said...

Very cool!

Shay said...

that is awesome... I don't think I could hold my breath long enough but it looks fun

Following Forward said...

SO funny you went here! My grandparents lived right near Wicki Watchee when I was growing up in Tampa and we went every summer! My favorite part was the mermaid shows under water! So glad you got to experience this!!

Vonda said...

You brought back a childhood memory for me! We went to Weeki Wachi while on vacation one year, many years ago! Thanks for sharing your journey!

Anonymous said...

Amazing as always