|For other uses, see Merfolk (disambiguation)|
|This article is about the species. You may be looking for the tavern or the soundtrack theme of the same name.|
Mermaids were mythical aquatic creatures known through all manner of legends and lore. Half woman, half fish, these lethally-minded sisters of the sea rise up from the waves to lure men into their arms. Beautiful, conniving and dangerous, mermaids would do anything to protect their homes.
Some stories depicted mermaids as perilous creatures associated with floods, storms, shipwrecks, and drowning. In other folklore (or sometimes within the same folk tradition) they can be benevolent, bestowing boons or falling in love with humans. The merfolk of Isla Sirena served as agents of the Sirens, dragging many sailors down to a watery grave. Other tales told that mermaids were known to gather at Whitecap Bay for hundreds of years, thereby striking terror in the heart of sailors and pirates alike. Drawn to the surface by man-made light and singing sailors, these scintillating mermaids entrance their prey before dragging them to the depths to devour them.
Sailors have speculated for centuries about these magical creatures. Half woman, half fish, they rise up from the waves to lure men into their arms. As creatures of legend and lore, mermaids, while beautiful, were also feared creatures, being referred to as "sea ghouls, devilfish" and known for their dreadful hunger for flesh of man.
Mermaids were also associated with legends regarding the Fountain of Youth, which was said to be discovered by Ponce de León in 1523. Those seeking the Fountain, who had knowledge of the Profane Ritual, had to find and capture a mermaid at Whitecap Bay. Only a mermaid's tear, placed in one of the Chalices of Cartagena, would set the rejuvenating forces of the Fountain to work. On many journeys to the Fountain, the Jungle Pools have been used to harvest mermaid tears. Tying mermaids within reach of water, yet leaving their bodies to slowly dry out. When the creatures die, they leave behind the remains of their marine form. Some time after Ponce de León's discovery, a mermaid would be drawn onto the Mao Kun Map, one of the few guides to the Fountain of Youth.
The Sword of Cortés
- "Our song will tear open your heart, and you will beg for more. It will tease you with your greatest desire till you grow mad. And this desire will eventually burn so fierce that you will drive yourself directly to us. Then it is our charge to deliver you to those to whom we answer."
- ―Morveren, Aquala and Aquila to Jack Sparrow
Captain Jack Sparrow first encountered the mermaids in Isla Sirena, following the escape from Isla Esquelética, during his quest for the Sword of Cortés. His shipmates, the crew of the Barnacle, were affected by the song of the Sirens, though Jack himself remained immune to its influence. Unable to sway him, the mermaids instead transported Jack to Isla Sirena itself, where they attempted to enslave him by robbing him of his freedom. Jack was tricked into handing over a prized possession—the eye of Stone-Eyed Sam—in exchange for the lives of his crew. Further, his freedom would be forfeit the next time he visited Isla Sirena.
Despite realizing this stipulation, Jack was forced to return to the mermaids' lair in order to recover the eye to defeat the spirit of Hernán Cortés. He negotiated his enslavement with the blue-tailed mermaid leaders, and defeated two predatory beasts in order to avoid eternal imprisonment. He was allowed to leave the island, and later reclaimed the eye from Tia Dalma.
War of Jolly Roger
At some point after the battle of Isla de Muerta the undead pirate captain Jolly Roger planned to take over the entire Caribbean and make himself a Pirate Lord. As he intended to unleash his terrible curse on the islands of the Caribbean, the mermaids somehow learned about his dreadful plan and warned the buccaneers about his evil intentions. Thanks to this warning, Jolly Roger's plan didn't succeed.
War against piracy
- "Avast Captain! Your crew says they've spied monsters in these waters! Let's go hunt Mermaid!"
- ―Joshamee Gibbs
Mermaids, sea serpents, banshees, and other legendary creatures could be found in the waters of the Caribbean during the war against piracy. After the battle of Calypso's maelstrom they were mercilessly hunted by pirates for the resources their bodies provided.
Quest for the Fountain of Youth
During the quest for the Fountain of Youth, Blackbeard and his crew journeyed to Whitecap Bay to capture a mermaid for the Profane Ritual. Blackbeard used his crew as living bait, as well as using man-made light from the lighthouse to lure the mermaids. Scrum was forced to sing My Jolly Sailor Bold to attract the mermaids, and successfully attracted the attention of Tamara. As Tamara continued singing Scrum's song, other mermaids appeared to the longboat. Their beauty fascinated the sailors, but Tamara revealed her true form. The mermaids began a lethal attack on Blackbeard's crewmen. Jack Sparrow managed to set an explosion on the lighthouse to scare them away, even meeting an old flame, Marina, in the process. A young mermaid later named Syrena, who proved to be very different from her vicious kind, was left behind to be captured by Blackbeard's men. The day after, the mermaids returned to attack the HMS Providence, dragging it and the crew onboard to the depths.
Biology and appearance
- "All these beautiful mermaids. Creatures of legend and lore, right in front of me! What an exciting adventure, indeed!"
- ―Jack Sparrow
The mermaids were amphibious beings, a hybrid of human and fish. The average mermaid had the appearance of a beautiful woman with long, flowing hair, and skin flecked with scales. From the waist down, however, a mermaid was comprised of a long, shimmering scaly fish-like tail. Further undermining their conventional beauty, mermaids hid sharp, fang-like teeth in their mouths.
The true form of mermaids however was very different to their beautiful guise; The mermaids of Isla Sirena had hair the colour of the sea and pearly skin covered in scales but if viewed peripherally, they lost their outward beauty and seemed to transform into creatures with clawed tentacles, fangs, and barnacles and boils covering their scales. They often spoke in harmony, singing a melody commonly attributed to the Sirens.
However the mermaids of Whitecap Bay appeared as very beautiful human women of different nationalities above the water, but once under water their skin became covered in scales, fangs grew in their mouths and their eyes changed to unnatural colours and would appear at times to glow fiercely.
Mermaids were incredibly beautiful and incredibly seductive and they lured seamen to their deaths. Their greatest weapon was their radiant appearance. The light of the moon illuminated their skin, their long locks fell seductively, and their deep-as-the-ocean eyes possessed the power to entrap any adventurer.
Mermaids possessed superhuman strength and were strong enough to break through solid wood with their bare hands. In large numbers, they have even been known to topple great ships: they were able to pull a fully crewed and masted frigate, the HMS Providence, underwater with very little effort. The mermaids of Whitecap Bay were known to have fed on men, seeing them as something that sustained them. They may look lovely, but they can shred a human limb from limb in seconds. These mermaids have been known to use long strands of seaweed as a form of lasso to pull sailors off ships or cliffs out of reach.
Their long and powerful tails made them very fast swimmers, adept at hunting prey, and gave the mermaids the capability of leaping out of the water to take any unfortunate sailor in midair off of the decks of boats, before diving back in. Their tails were covered in a scaly translucent membrane which floats around them like tendrils in the water and was shed when they gained legs. They can survive long enough on land to drag a sailor back into the sea, where they can entangle them in a powerful grip. The mermaids of Whitecap Bay also have the ability to go on land in human form, beneath the skin of their tails was the suggestion of the legs they gain on land. However if they were partially in the water, trapped in mermaid form but not enough in the water to live, they can dry out and die. They also appeared to have red blood as shown when Philip Swift stabbed Syrena's fin.
Mermaids were known to have special abilities. It was common knowledge that a kiss from a mermaid would protect a sailor from drowning. In legends concerning the Fountain of Youth, particularly the Profane Ritual, a mermaid's tear was one of the required items needed in order to make the Fountain work. But as proud and ferocious as the seas in which they live, mermaids do not weep lightly. It was said that tears of joy were the more potent.
Mermaids also appeared to have some degree of psychic ability. Syrena seemed to show these abilities when she saved Philip Swift because she sensed he was "different" and that he "protects" compared to other men she and her kind encounter. Syrena also appeared to have sensed that the Chalices of Cartagena had fallen into the waters of the Fountain, and that Angelica needed saving as she told Jack Sparrow to not waste her tear.
Society and culture
Stories and legends of mermaids commonly depicted sweet and innocent creatures, though more sinister versions told of corrupted merfolk who aligned themselves with the Sirens. In reality, there were thousands of the latter type in Isla Sirena alone, and this legion was known to congregate to drag sailors down to the depths, a trait also shared with the mermaids of Whitecap Bay.
The mermaids of Isla Sirena were part of the merfolk that did the bidding of the Sirens, who were in turn ruled by Davy Jones. They resided in chambers within Isla Sirena, and had control over various creatures that inhabited Davy Jones' Locker, including iguana monsters and sea beasts. The merfolk also had contact with Tia Dalma, and were aware of legendary artifacts such as the Sword of Cortés.
There were at least three separate sub-species of merfolk in Isla Sirena, distinguished by the color of the scales on their fish-like tails. Those with green tails were analogous to soldiers, and operated as the military arm of the society. They confronted sailors lured to Isla Sirena and dragged them down to the island itself. Red-tailed merfolk were the servants of mermaid society, and were commonly found wading around waiting for orders. They acted as guards and workers in Isla Sirena. Finally, blue-tails served as the leaders of the mermaids. The three blue-tails encountered by Jack Sparrow, Morveren, Aquala and Aquila, were named as "chairwomen" by the green-tails.
- "I heard it said a kiss from a mermaid protects a sailor from drowning.'
"Don't be a fool. Mermaids are all female, son. And lovely as a dream of heaven. But when it comes time to churn butter, so to speak, they snatch a sailor out of a boat or off the deck of a ship, have their way, and then the sailors are pulled to bottom, and drowned, and eaten."
"Or, sometimes, the other way around."
- ―Derrick, Ezekiel and Scrum
Doom awaits any misguided mariner who sought out the perilous waters of Whitecap Bay. Myths tell of mermaids lurking beneath the pale, foaming breakers, but few knew that these briny beauties were actually flesh-eating creatures. When Blackbeard located these denizens of the deep, he and his crew found themselves surrounded by vengeful foes. Legend had it that man-made light and song attracted the sirens of the sea, so the longboat full of Blackbeard's crewmen—sent as the bait—is lit by the beam of the lighthouse and Scrum sings a swaying sea shanty.
The mermaids in Whitecap Bay seemed to be more independent from Sirens, and they also appeared to be far more aggressive and bloodthirsty. Beautiful, conniving and dangerous, these mermaids would do anything to protect their home in Whitecap Bay. Drawn to the surface by a man-made light and singing sailors, they entrance their prey into coming close before dragging them to the depths of the Bay to devour them. However, if the men caught on, which would presumably be right after the first one was taken, the mermaids would abandon their gentle disguise, and attack viciously, acting in a similar manner to sharks in a feeding frenzy. They were apparently very driven to catch their prey, so much that they clawed and punched through wood in attempts to snare their targets. The mermaids appeared to be very territorial, which was noted during the battle with Blackbeard's crew, as well as the sinking of the HMS Providence shortly after its arrival to the Bay.
The attraction to man-made light and song was often used as a way to capture mermaids. However, they were naturally afraid of fire, though this could be interpreted as a fear of any forms of general warmth, which can cause them to dry out. This can be noted by mermaids fleeing Blackbeard's Greek fire as well as legends of the Jungle Pools.
A mermaid's bond with her sisters was hard to tell, but appears to be rather cold, as when Syrena was captured, the other mermaids retreated without any visible concern. Also, when Syrena was forced to look at the many mermaid corpses, and Blackbeard's taunting of the death of her fellow mermaids, she didn't seem to be particularly affected. However, she did apparently show a slight trace of emotion, perhaps anger at the men for their actions. Mermaids have been described by Blackbeard as being tough, and strong willed, making it rare for them to genuinely shed tears. Their tears of joy were said to be the most potent type of tear. The mermaid people believed that "the One pours death into life, and life into death, without a drop spilt."
However, not all mermaids were vicious. Some were capable of having a compassionate and loving side, most notably from Syrena. Syrena appeared to be unique among her kind as she was the only known mermaid to actually develop feelings for a human. Though it wasn't the same case with Marina, who had a relationship with Jack Sparrow at some point in her life.
Behind the scenes
- On Stranger Tides was the first of the POTC films to include mermaids, though they were first mentioned in The Curse of the Black Pearl. However, the mermaids' first appearance in the POTC universe was in The Siren Song, the second book in the Jack Sparrow series.
- The portrayal of mermaids differ throughout the POTC universe. In the Jack Sparrow series, the mermaids served as agents of the Sirens; while in On Stranger Tides, the mermaids appear to have siren-like qualities.
- While filming On Stranger Tides, all the mermaids were women who wore skin-tight swimsuits on with dots on them, which would make them 3-D Computer-generated with the work done by Industrial Light & Magic. Their performances were recorded using motion capture during actual filming on set, rather than in a motion capture studio during post-production.
- In the first screenplay draft of At World's End, Hector Barbossa starts to search for the Fountain of Youth, using the captain's journal of Juan Ponce de León that he took from Tia Dalma who in turn received it from a mermaid.
- On October 2012, mermaids were added to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Walt Disney World. At the grotto scene, after guests ride past the ghostly projection at the start of the ride, a shape splashing in the water can be seen as guests enter the scene with skeletons on a beach, where a mermaid skeleton can be seen. An audio of the song My Jolly Sailor Bold can also be heard at this part of the ride.
- Mermaids, as well as the song My Jolly Sailor Bold, also appeared in 2012 attraction The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow.
- Shortly before the battle at Whitecap Bay, Garheng briefly mentions Jack Sparrow's previous encounter with mermaids. That scene was cut out from the final version of the On Stranger Tides movie, but it was written in the film's original script as well as being included in the film's junior novelization.
- At the world premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Daphne Joy, who played one of the mermaids in the film, jokingly named her character Sadana. It is unlikely that the name is official, however.
- Mermaids were featured in Terry Rossio's original script for Dead Men Tell No Tales. Following the battle for the Fountain of Youth, their leaders would order Syrena to find the legendary Trident of Neptune and restore her people to the good will of the gods. Following that, she would be allowed to reunite with Philip Swift, but the magic of her nature caused her to forget him.
- Pirates of the Caribbean (ride)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure
- Pirates of the Caribbean (game) (Mentioned only)
- The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
- Jack Sparrow: The Siren Song (First appearance)
- Jack Sparrow: The Pirate Chase (Mentioned only)
- Jack Sparrow: The Sword of Cortés
- Jack Sparrow: Bold New Horizons
- The Price of Freedom (Mentioned only)
- Legends of the Brethren Court: The Caribbean (Mentioned only)
- Legends of the Brethren Court: Rising in the East
- Legends of the Brethren Court: Day of the Shadow (Mentioned only)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Six Sea Shanties
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (First mentioned)
- Pirates of the Caribbean Online (Mentioned only)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- The Brightest Star in the North: The Adventures of Carina Smyth (Mentioned only)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game (Non-canonical appearance)
- Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life (Non-canonical appearance)
- Pirates of the Caribbean (film series)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (junior novelization)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide
- The Art of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Notes and references
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- Jack Sparrow: The Siren Song
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide, p56-57: "The Mermaids"
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide
- Jack Sparrow: The Sword of Cortés
- Pirates of the Caribbean Online
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide, p.54-55: "Whitecap Bay"
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides | Characters | Mermaids | Disney
- Aaron McBride and Ben Snow PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4 Interview | Collider
- Mermaids added to Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Magic Kingdom - Orlando Attractions Magazine
- Daphne Joy Narvaez at the World Premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- Pirates of the Caribbean DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES Screenplay by Terry Rossio