Hannah the Mermaid on making our oceans ‘much better’

Hannah Fraser aka ‘Hannah the Mermaid’ is not only the world’s first professional mermaid but also a committed ocean conservation activist.

Sam caught up with her to learn more about her motivations and how she got involved in such an unusual career.Who is Hannah the Mermaid?

I am a professional freelance mermaid. That’s right. I actually swim underwater with a hand crafted, fully functional mermaid tail, as a job!

I grew up in Australia, USA and India, and moved to Los Angeles a year and a half ago to throw myself fully into my passion and make the most of my career in a place where there are many creative people with a lot of motivation! I have swum with great white sharks, whales, dolphins, manta rays, sting rays, turtles, seals, and a wide variety of other sea life. So far I still have all my limbs!

I create my mermaid tails myself andhave been performing as a mermaid for 9 years, and to my knowledge was the first person to make a full time career out of being a freelance professional mermaid. Creating a career that fit into my passion rather than trying to fit into an existing career path hasn’t been easy, but endlessly rewarding.What is the environmental issue that you endeavour to make ‘muchbetter’?

Swimming in the ocean as a mermaid, becoming so at one with the underwater life, and having the opportunity to see such magnificent creatures at close range has inspired me to campaign against ocean degradation, pollution and overfishing.

Most dear to my heart are the whales and dolphins, who bring so much playfulness, interaction and trust to their encounters with humans.

I have been actively campaigning for an end to the slaughter of whales and dolphins through direct action (standing up to the fishermen killing dolphins in the Cove, Japan) and through education, awareness programs and beautiful imagery in my mermaid videos and photos.

I hope to encourage others to take an interest in the ocean through what I do, and to realize we have a responsibility to care for all creatures on this planet as fellow beings.

I would like to see an end to ALL whale and dolphin slaughter, an end to overfishing, and a worldwide commitment to end ocean pollution.What first brought this issue to light for you?I have been lucky enough to travel around the world and swim in many different oceans and interacting with a large array of sea creatures.

I began to notice sick animals, beachings, pollution, coral reefs dying, bad fishing practices and rubbish dumping. When you are actually swimming in these conditions it really hits home that the ocean is in a dire state and it is only because of our selfishness and laziness as human beings not caring for it.

When I first saw a youtube clip of dolphins being slaughtered in Japan I wept with shame at being part of this race. Since then I have been endeavouring to try to make a difference in the way humans interact with the ocean ever since.What can we do to help and where can we get more information on this issue?Support local and international ocean preservation groups such asSurfersforCetaceans.com,SeaShepherd.org,SaveJapanDolphins.org,Na.Oceana.org,OceanPreservationSociety.comand you can also upload your support photo to visualpetition.com

Don’t ever drop rubbish, it will all end up on the beach or in the water eventually! As ‘Nemo’ says, ‘All drains lead to the ocean’!

Get creative, use your unique skills to bring awareness to the ocean issues. If you are an artist, Paint it. If you are a musician, make songs about it.What have been the highlights and struggles of your project so far?

Interestingly, my biggest struggle was also the biggest highlight.

A group of 6 activists paddled out to the Taiji bay of blood while a group of dolphins were being slaughtered by fishermen. It was one of the most heart-breaking moments, to not be able to save those dolphins. To face off with men who were so indignant in their right to kill intelligent, sentient innocent beings without thought really made me question our race’s ‘humanity’.

However, being there were such passionate individuals willing to put themselves on the line for these animals was so inspiring, enlivening and empowering.

Through this action we raised awareness of the issue enormously, we were part of the Oscar Award winning documentary ‘The Cove’ that got dolphin meat taken off the government funded school lunch program in Japan and the meat taken off the shelves in the surrounding supermarkets. Meanwhile the fishermen continue to kill the dolphins each year, but more people around the world are objecting and I hold faith that the arcane practice will end due to worldwide pressure.

As far as being a mermaid as a career goes, it certainly has its own challenges. Swimming with great white sharks was a concept that utterly terrified me, I didnt sleep and had sweaty palms for weeks prior to that journey!

I have received thousands of letters form kids around the world who are now convinced they have met a real life mermaid! I know for myself, I would have been absolutely beside myself if I met a mermaid when I was a kid!

What is the most recent project you have been working on to raise awareness?

I swam with Caribbean reef sharks last month, that was amazing and kind of scary, as one bit my tail and another ‘gummed’ my shoulder with its mouth! I am very lucky to be in one piece.

People often ask me why on earth I would swim with such dangerous creatures such as sharks. I find them to be intriguing, awe inspiring, magnificent and beautiful in their own way. I accept that they are one of the world’s most dangerous predators but I also have found that they are not mindless monsters just waiting for me to dip my tail in the ocean to suddenly attack me. They are wary, clever, and intelligent creatures. If you treat them with respect, know their behaviours, be very careful and occasionally show them who’s boss you can be lucky enough to swim with them and stay in one piece.

Ive been shooting a short video piece entitled ‘ The beauty of the all around’ that is focused on the ocean environmental message reaching children.

Finally, where is your favourite spot in the world to swim underwater? Any recommendations?

I have different dive spots that I love for different reasons.

I love diving in Tonga with the whales, it is one of the most magical things you can do on this planet! I suggest everyone does it at least once! There are two really special caves around the island of Vava’u in Tonga that are total mystical mermaid grottos as well.

I love Fiji, the water is warm, the islands are tropical paradise and the fish are so colourful and gorgeous. Tavarua Island is my favourite there.

My 2 favorite shipwrecks so far have been Tulamben wreck in Bali, and the Shark shipwreck off Nassau, Bahamas with Stuart Cove dive centre.

The Galapagos Islands are an amazing adventure, where I swam with my first seals, and bat rays.

Good luck, Hannah!

Here is a video of Hannah swimming with a host of fantastic sea animals from heryoutube channel.

If you want to find out more about Hannah, check out her website for more information on how you can support her ocean conservation efforts.

Do you have a story or opinion to share about this topic? Let us know in the comments below.