Throughout history mermaids have mesmerized and captured people's imaginations. Sailors often thought they saw sirens of the sea while on their long voyages.

But if you happen to spot a mermaid's tail splashing out in Vancouver's English Bay or in a local pool, don't be too alarmed.

"Basically I put on a mermaid tail and I jump into a pool or ocean and away I go," said artist Lori Pappajohn, who lives in the Lower Mainland and has a passion for "mermaiding."

Now Pappajohn has put together a photo exhibition called Mermaids are Real, showcasing herself and friends diving down into the ocean depths — all while dressed as mermaids — opening in New Westminster this weekend.

Mermaid 4

Annette Johnston and Lori Pappajohn in the waters of Maui. (Benja Iglesis)

The unusual activity is not without its detractors.

Cities across Canada including Edmonton and Surrey have banned swimming in a mermaid outfit, due to the safety concerns of having one's feet bound together while in the water.

But the ban doesn't concern Pappajohn.​

"Every sport you do has safety concerns. We allow kids to go to skateboard parks and give themselves spinal injuries and concussions."

The Mermaids Are Real exhibition opens at the Arts Council of New Westminster Gallery on Sunday, June 28 and runs until Sunday, July 19. 

With files from Gavin Fisher