Pacific Sea-Maid

This is what's written in the Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You about the Merpeople.

Merfolk (Family: Sirenidae)Edit

As stunningly gorgeous as they are dangerous, merfolk live in loosely structured kingdoms deep in the sea, but occasionally their natural curiosity causes them to near the shore.

Although usually seen at night out on the jetties or even sometimes on the soft sand of the beaches, they have been spotted in daylight, resting on rocky outcroppings. They have also been found trapped in tidal pools when the sea changes.

Merfolk are at their most helpless out of water. Even though their dual-function lungs can breath air, their silvery scales dry out with overexposure to the sun.

Although merfolk are very beautiful, it is not safe to approach them. Land people and sea people have been at odds since earliest recorded memory. With pollution increasing and more aquatic species hunted to extinction, merfolk are even less likely to consider a land dweller as a potential friend.


An Atlantic Sea King (Siren atlanticus)

Merfolk differ widely in coloration, sharing the distinctive characteristics of fish of their region. Male merfolk, known as mermen, are rare and solitary creatures except during the mating season. They can easily be distinguished from the mermaids by their larger size.

As with any culture, merfolk leave behind a significant amount of artifacts that can be found around their habitats. Small piles of discarded shellfish may well be evidence of a merperson coming ashore to dine. Sea people are unused to cooking, so there will be no sign of a fire and there may be some sharp object nearby that was used to pry the food open.

You may come upon sheets of seaweed drying along the shoreline. Merfolk weave a crude kind of fabric from it, called seaweed cloth, that is used for garments, rope, and even baskets.

Merfolk tools are made from bone, discarded land glass, or the sharp teeth of sharks, but never iron. These tools are often bound at one end with eel skin.

You may find shells or pieces of coral with small holes in them. These are from necklaces merpeople wear around their necks and sometimes loop along their tails.


A Caribbean Mermaid (Siren caribbaeanus)

The evidence of merfolk is especially strong if the shell is not native to your beaches. Merfolk have been known to travel great distances and often lose or discard things along the way.

Known speciesEdit

  • Pacific Sea-Maid (Siren pacificus)
  • Atlantic Sea King (Siren atlanticus)
  • Caribbean Mermaid (Siren caribbaeanus)
  • Coral Dwellers (Siren phylum-Cnidaria)

Additional factsEdit

Merfolk have no actual hair. The "hair" on the back of the head is, in fact, external gill filaments. However, the filaments need to be brushed and combed, just like Human hair. Even what appears to be eyebrows are merely patterns on their skin, mimicking features of land-dwellers. Certain species lack hair at all like the Caribbean mermaid who possesses a mane of anemone tentacles. Just like a jellyfish, this hair can deliver a numbing sting to those who touch it.


Mermaid's Necklace

Mermaids may be capable of protogyny, a physical transformation in which some tropical species of fish change their gender. This could explain why Mermen so seldom have been observed, and allows the species to thrive. If this is the case, it's still unknown how they can change back to female gender. However, this is observed in many fish species, and further, probably possible.

Some Merfolk can, when threatened, release an inky cloud from a sack in the tail, just like an octopus. Then they swim away, while the attacker is distracted.

They are closely related to Naiads. Merfolk are apparently closer related to Giants than to Humans. Merfolk look similar to the fish that live in their oceans. This may be an example of convergent evolution, when two unrelated species in the same environment develop similar traits like the Pacific Sea-Maid's seahorse-like tail or the Atlantic Sea King's lionfish fins and face.

When many Mermaids swim together, they swim like a school of fish, all turning and swimming at the same time. Mermen are solitary but mermaids swim together like a school of fish or a pod of dolphins.

They can create seaweed caps that enable the wearer to breathe underwater or in other places that humans cannot breathe in such as air filled with poisonous vapours.

Like nixies, mermaids posses beautiful voices. Even when they talk, their words sound like music. When a mermaid truly sings, her voice has the power to hypnotise anything or anyone, even other faeries like giants. When they sing, listeners are drawn to them and will follow the singing mermaids anywhere, even into the depths of the ocean. It has been noted that a mermaid's voice is more powerful than a nixie's.

Just as nixies are guardians of ponds and streams, merfolk are the guardians of the seas and they drown humans as they see them as a threat to the ocean. It is a mermaid's job to protect all the forces of the sea, even giants who hibernate beneath the ocean surface are under their protection.

Merfolk love the ocean and its creatures but are cold and cruel towards humans. They take human lives as payment and revenge for the countless sea creatures hunted by humans.

Known MerfolkEdit


When Nick, Laurie, Jules, Cindy and Sandspur went to the beach in the middle of the night to make the merfolk help them with luring the Giants out to the sea with song, the Mermaids kidnapped Jules and threatened to hold him imprisoned under the water forever if his friends didn't gave them a new fish that had never swim in their sea before, before the sun rise. At first they had no idea how to get a new fish, but then Nick remembered that there was some seas completely surrounded by land, and that the Merfolk couldn't have seen the fish that lived there. It showed up that Cindy's dad had a large saltwater aquarium. They went there, and while Nick distracted Cindy's dad by saying that he wanted to get a saltwater aquarium, Laurie took a fish called George from the Red Sea. But Sandspur escaped from his leash, made some noise, and forced the kids to run. When they gave the fish to the Merfolk, they returned Jules and sang, but only for a short time. Then they disappeared into the water. Nick had been recording the song on a microcassette recorder, and by rigging some equipment on the top of Jules' car, they could lure the Giants out to sea.


When the Hydras started to form sinkholes everywhere, and Nick, Laurie, Jules, Jared, Simon, Mallory and Sandspur went back to the beach to lure the Giants back to land with Nixie song, they decided to try to surf out with the Nixies in the water, because saltwater burns Nixie skin. Julian couldn't, as he had been imprisoned by the Merpeople and thus had gotten a fear for the sea. Nicholas decided to go out with Ibi, but because he'd never surfed before, he needed to practice first. It didn't go so well, he almost drowned under the water, but a Mermaid filled his lungs with air and then gave him a cap of woven sea grass which allows humans to breath underwater. The Mermaids told Nicholas that they were not going to help, because apparently they have to protect everything that lives in their ocean, including Giants, and that they wanted the land to burn. Nick was swept up to the surface again and was rescued by his stepsister.

Behind the scenesEdit

Blue-Finned Seamaid

A "Blue-Finned Seamaid", done by Tony DiTerlizzi in 1994 for what would eventually become Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide.

The thought of an underwater, human-like person occur in mythologies and folklore all over the world.

The first stories of Mermaids occured in ancient Assyria around 1,000 years B.C.. In the Arabic story compendium, One Thousand and One Nights, an underwater culture appears, although these creatures are identical to humans, except the ability to breathe water. Around Ireland and the British Isles, tales were told about creatures like Murduachas, Muireartach ("Sea-witches"), Merrows, Selkies, and so on. The Greek variation is a creature called the Siren, who lures seamen to crash with their ships against the cliffs by singing otherworldy, beautiful songs.


Trivia Edit

  • Their family name, Sirenidae, comes from the word siren. Sirens were creatures from Greek mythology with the head of a woman and the wings and bodies of birds. They used their beautiful singing voices to enchant mortals and lure them to their doom. They later became depicted as mermaids. In most languages "sirena" or "sirene" or another variation of these is how mermaids are still called.
  • The seaweed caps mermaids make are similar to the ones merrows use in irish mythology.
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