Vol 68, No 1 (2017)
Original article
Published online: 2017-03-30

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Mermaid health — identifying health issues related to mermaiding

Matthieu J. Guitton
Pubmed: 28357831
IMH 2017;68(1):12-18.


Background: Mermaiding — swimming with a leg-covering monofin mimicking the tail of a mermaid — is an emerging aquatic activity, which has gained a marked popularity over the last few years. However, no study so far has documented the potential health issues or risks of injuries related to this practice.

Materials and methods: This study surveyed professional mermaids cumulating an estimated total of 19,147 h of in-water mermaiding, regarding their health issues and injuries. While mermaiding bears some risks, the occurrence of problematic conditions appears limited. Interestingly, the profile of health issues experienced by professional mermaids is unique and specific, and clearly different from both professional swimmers and surfers.

Results: Self-reported health issues related to mermaiding could be divided into issues specifically related to mermaiding activities (ear issues, reported by 87.5% of the respondents; sea life encounters, 50%; cold-related issues, 37.5%; compromised access to air, 25%), issues related to the tail and fins (back pain, 50%; lower limbs issues, 37.5%), and issues related to water quality (eye issues, 25%; waterborne diseases, 12.5%). Clear differences appear between professional and recreational mermaiding activities.

Conclusions: The results presented here will help to build safer conditions for mermaiding activities and to develop adapted responses from health specialists to help this unique yet growing population of aquatic performers and athletes.  


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