By Kaetlyn Chesi
Western Australia is home to dozens of active mermaids between Karratha and Albany.
The Perth Merfolks Pod currently has 125 members – its youngest is aged 7 and the oldest in their 50’s.
“Mermaiding” involves wearing and swimming with a costume mermaid tail. The practice was made popular by “professional mermaids”, who swim for an audience.
Pod leader Sophia Marie Wells began her mermaid journey when she stumbled upon a picture of a “professional mermaid” while browsing online back in 2014.
After becoming involved in the international online mermaid community, Wells created the Perth Merfolks Pod in 2017.
While there are “professional mermaids” in Perth, the purpose of the Perth Merfolks Pod is to share good times with like-minded people, with meetups involving group swims, road trips, meals and photo-shoots.
“We just explore, we socialise, I video people around the Omeo Wreck swimming and doing tricks,” says Wells.
“If you’re gunna go and mermaid on your own, it’s not as fun as when you have others to laugh and be stupid with.”
The gear for “mermaiding”, even at a hobbyist level, can be pricey. Tails range, from around $80 for a basic version, to $10,000 for a more high end model.
The price hasn’t deterred recent member Maddy Schoeman. Since joining the Pod in 2018, she has already bought herself six tails.
“I’m absolutely blown away by the community,” Schoeman says.
“I’ve been able to grow as a person and make connections with people I wouldn’t have been able to make connections with.
“They don’t judge me for being awkward, they take the idea of ‘Oh you wanna be a mermaid? Let’s make you a mermaid’.”