A U.S. government scientific body has made an unusual declaration: There is no evidence for the existence of mermaids.
The National Ocean Service, part of the U.S. Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, made the announcement last week on its website.
"No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found," the post reads.
"Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists."
The post provides a brief overview of various mermaid legends from around the world, from Australia — where aboriginal people called them yawkyawks — to the ancient Greek writings of Homer. It says the first images of half-human sea figures date to 30,000 years ago.
The scientific agency made the statement following inquiries from members of the public thought to have been prompted by a broadcast in May on the U.S. cable channel Animal Planet.
The broadcast of Mermaids: The Body Found was a fictionalized portrayal of the purported discovery of mermaids by scientists and an ensuing government cover-up, but some viewers thought it might be real.