Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.
How would the world be different if merfolk were real? What would happen if merpeople existed? This article addresses the hypothetical but likely ways the real world could change if mermaids and mermen were real.
What Would Happen If Merfolk Were Real?
Sailors would have stories of merpeople, and no one would mistake a manatee for one.
Forget dolphin-safe nets. We’d have mer-people safe fishing nets.
We’d try to hire merpeople to salvage wrecks for us, potentially hindering development of SCUBA technology by humans. Conversely, the existence of mer-people may lead to alternate technologies based on their biology.
We’d attempt to hire and perhaps enslave merpeople, depending on the era in history, to tend edible seaweed beds, harvest pearls and gather sea silk.
The aquatic ape theory of human evolution would have much more credence.
We’d try to communicate with them, and if possible, use them to communicate with dolphins and whales.
Even if they were warm blooded, we’d see them congregate in the warm water exhausts of power plants as manatees and crocodiles do.
Mermaid porn would be a full-fledged genre.
The wildlife channel would have rated R shows centered on mermaid sightings.
Crab nets and lobster pots may need to be mer-folk proof to prevent their theft of the findings.
Merfolk sightings would be a tourist attraction in some areas.
Webcams would include sightings of merfolk, while tours to see them would cater to tourists. Anyone sailing around the world or rowing across the Atlantic would have merpeople accompany them once in a while.
At least one surfing contestant would complain that their wipeout was due to merfolk interference.
Cross-species water polo games would be formal sporting events.
Hindus may worship them or consider them another level of human incarnation. For other faiths, the existence of merpeople as obvious servants to a sea god could cause Poseidon, not Zeus, to be seen as the superior Greek god. This would hinder the development of monotheism in the West. If merfolk had magic, this prevents monotheism from developing at all except the worship of Poseidon.
If merpeople were intelligent, we’d call them as witnesses in boating accidents, piracy events, murders where the body was dumped at sea. We’d also try to use them to recover dead bodies after storms.
Inland water parks would try to host merpeople the way they have dolphins now, and the ethics would be clearer since merpeople could likely give consent.
The status of humans as masters of the land on a religious basis wouldn’t be hard, but they’d have theological arguments over human domination of the seas. We’d probably see ocean preserves for merfolk far sooner in human history, whether as reservations for them or areas they say we cannot go.
Sand dredging, beach construction and other projects would have to be approved by a mer-man representative in addition to every other type of permitting.
Ocean pollution would be considered a far greater offense because merfolk would be harmed.
At least one navy would try to train merfolk to put mines on enemy ships, locate mines in harbors or spy on various fleets. We did this with seals and sea lions in the real world.
At least one group of pirates would train merfolk to aid in piracy, whether as distractions or labeling the best targets.
Sea monkeys would be identified as “your own little merfolk”.
Just as we already have bestiality brothels in the EU, seaside towns and some inland facilities would have the same for curious humans.
We’d hire them to try to map the ocean floor but there would be conspiracy theories as to what they may be hiding by giving us false data. By utilizing them, it would delay the development of other technologies to do the same job.
Eco-friendly ocean mining becomes possible if you can hire mer-folk to gather the materials for you.
We’d debate whether or not animals had souls and rights because mer-folk are a clear intermediary species.
We would try to give them equipment or supplements so they could clear the Great Lakes of invasive mollusks.
© 2017 Tamara Wilhite