Although designed to appear as if the information contained in the special was actual scientific evidence, the popular documentary was actually a category called docufiction and all of its investigation into finding evidence of the mythical sea creature was merely a hoax.
“Mermaids: The New Evidence” is the second docufiction drama produced by Animal Planet, with the first airing in 2012 and called “Mermaids: The Body Found.”
The newest Mermaids special claimed to show film footage taken of mermaid activity found around the Greenland Sea. More than 3.5 million viewers were intrigued enough to tune in, setting a viewer record for Animal Planet.
Most of the programming shown on Animal Planet focuses on reality series or documentaries about wildlife and other animals. Critics lauded the newest Mermaid docufiction for its success at leading viewers to believe that it was making real scientific claims about the existence of mermaids, a creature that has been a part of sea lore and science fiction since earliest times. Many believe that mermaids will become the next big thing investigated as an unexplained mystery.
In a statement, Animal Planet’s president and general manager Marjorie Kaplan said, “The phenomenon of ‘Mermaids’ has truly been a watershed — and a watercooler — moment for Animal Planet. These extraordinary television specials have electrified, challenged and entertained television audiences and online fans alike.”
Twitter, being what it is, was full of people who seemed to believe that mermaids could exist, despite no lack of real evidence.
One tweeter wrote, “What’s so convincing is the consistency of how they look in all of the images and videos we’ve seen they look the same #mermaids.”
Another twitter user wrote: “Think about it there are so many things are on this earth that we don’t know about #mermaids may be one of them”
In writing about the special, LA Times writer Ed Stockly noted, “It’s remarkable how well this fake documentary mimics actual programs claiming to reveal actual creatures. Substitute Mermaids for Bigfoot, Chupacabra, the Loch Ness monster, ghosts and aliens and it’s hard to make a distinction between what’s real but faked, and what’s really fake.
“While this production won’t fool many skeptics (at least I hope not), I can only imagine that the same audiences that lap up shows about Bigfoot, ghosts, psychics, etc. will miss the disclaimers and buy into this one too. Mermaids could be the new Nessy.”
After the first special aired, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration released a statement to clear up confusion for perplexed viewers over whether mermaids were real.
“The belief in mermaids may have arisen at the very dawn of our species,” the statement read. “But are mermaids real? No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists.”
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At the end of Mermaids: The New Evidence, a disclaimer read, “Though certain events in this film are fic
Animal Planet’s mermaid hoax special draws record ratings