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Can you prove that mermaids are real?

Davi de Oliveira Moreira swims in his mermaid costume at Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last May.
Yasuyoshi Chiba
AFP/Getty Images
Davi de Oliveira Moreira swims in his mermaid costume at Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last May.

CMU professor becomes "mermaid expert" in a contest hosted by Chicken of the Sea.

When you were a kid, maybe you believed in mermaids. Maybe you still do. As long as you can prove they're real to mermaid expert, CMU professor Ari Berk, you can win one million dollars.

Chicken of the Sea is offering one million dollars to anyone who can prove mermaids are real. If no one can prove that, the company says it will donate one million ounces of seafood to food pantries around the country.

Ari Berk is a professor of folklore and mythology at Central Michigan University. He said chicken of the sea called him asking for a mermaid expert.

Berk said, "they contacted me, and said that they were looking for a mermaid expert. And at that moment, I had to decide if that is in fact, what I wanted to call myself professionally at this point in my career, but I guess it's it. I mean, I have written... things on merpeople and ghosts, giants and hobgoblins and other worldly things. So I suppose if there was a mermaid expert, I might be it."

Ari said that he helped Chicken of the Sea change the initial tone of the contest to make it more about respecting the environment.

He said, "there's a lot of fake kind of documentaries and things on YouTube and Tiktok about mermaids, and they're always about hunting them down. And this I felt, in keeping with the folklore about mermaids, shouldn't be about that. It should really be more about respecting our relationship with with the ocean with our natural resources."

Berk said he thinks he became a mermaid expert because he reads, writes, and studies all things folklore. But he said if you want to become a mermaid expert, it is most important to study, "human narrative language of kinship with our environment."

When I asked Berk if he believes in mermaids, he said, "that's your question. Sorry, you wasted it...of course I do!"

Berk also taught me about the history of merfolk, the gender neutral term for mermaids. I can say, it was convincing enough for me to admit that I do believe in mermaids.

Ella Pierzecki is a freshman at Central Michigan University. She is majoring in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts and minoring in Journalism and Political Science. Ella is from Canton, Michigan where she loves to play with her dog. She is a huge baseball fan and loves cheering on the Detroit Tigers. At WCMU, Ella is excited to meet new people and develop her skills in journalism.