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Mermaid Spotlight: Mermaid Essie

Written By Kate Vontaine 13 Dec 2018
Mermaid Spotlight: Mermaid Essie
How did you get your start?
I can honestly say that I never intended for mermaiding to become such a huge part of my life. I was visiting family in the Philippines a few years ago and I remember seeing an advertisement for a mermaid school not far from where my family lived. My cousins and I decided to go for it. We spent the day swimming as mermaids and I fell in love with it instantaneously. As soon as our session ended, I ran up to my family and excitedly told them that I was going to become a mermaid. For the rest of my stay, one of my cousins kept calling me the "frustrated mermaid" whenever I talked about how much I wanted my own tail. When I got back to the US, I bought my first tail, and the rest is history! 
What did your first tail look like?
The first ever tail I swam in pink and yellow and I used these colors when I designed my silicone tail. I fell in love with being a mermaid while swimming in the Philippines and it represented my start as a mermaid. I wanted to commemorate that, so both my first fabric tail (the one I wore in the Philippines) and my silicone tail have similar color schemes. 
What's your favorite thing to do on land?
I love being in the wilderness, especially mountainous regions. I love camping, hiking, backpacking, skiing, and going to remote areas to string up a hammock and read a good book. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest doing all of these things with my family and friends, and I really can't think of anything better than to be outside in nature. 
What is your favorite spot to dive and do your mermaid thing?
This is hard! I've swam in so many beautiful locations, but if I had to pick, I'm going to go with my home in the Philippines. The natural beauty of the Philippines is beyond compare - it has gorgeous coral reefs, abundant wildlife, crystal clear waters, and the water temperature is perfect year-round! As a mermaid, I can't really ask for more. 
What's your favorite underwater animal?
I'm obsessed with anglerfish, although I'm fond of all deep ocean creatures! I find anglerfish utterly fascinating and I love learning about how they evolved and adapted to such extreme living conditions. Honestly, if I could go anywhere in the world, I'd love to swim down to the Mariana Trench and swim with all the interesting fish down there!  
What's your favorite thing about being a mermaid?
This is a two parter! 
First, ocean conservation. This is a deeply personal issue for me; I hold a master's degree in environmental policy and I grew up constantly spending time in wilderness areas. The reason I went into environmental policy was because I wanted to ensure that our environment is protected. It's a long, hard fight, and sometimes its easy to feel like change isn't happening. It's different when I wear a tail though. When I'm a mermaid, kids want to come to talk to me, they want to hear what I have to say, and I get to connect with them on a completely different level. Instead of spending hours wading through complex legal documents and reports, I get to read to kids about the ocean, teach them about single-use plastics, recycling, and other ways they can help out. I like to think of mermaiding as the "fun" side of my conservation work :) 
Second, freediving. Like most things in my mermaid career, I kind of stumbled upon this on accident. I had just started my journey and I was obsessed with anything mermaid related. I was watching H20: Just Add Water when I learned that people could get freediving certifications, compete, and learn how to become literal mermaids (sans tail). I signed up for a course and I loved everything about it. I loved being able to push myself to swim just a little bit deeper, to hold my breath just a little bit longer. In fact, I love it so much that I'm actually about to depart for my freediving instructor's training in a couple weeks! 
How can we (your mermaid friends) help the ocean, our home?
To everyone out there, with or without a tail, you can help protect the ocean! Far too many people think that the ocean is too large and what they do won't make a difference. In my economics courses, we called this a "drop in the bucket" problem, but this is the wrong way to think about it. The ocean is massive, but that doesn't mean people don't have any impact. How often do people assume it won't make a difference if they use a single-use straw? Or that it won't matter if they use only one disposable cup? Just one piece of litter in the ocean shouldn't hurt anything, right? Wrong. These things add up. The ocean is saturated with pollution, and it's not because one person threw one disposable cup into its waters. It's because too many of us made this decision. Now think of it this way. What happens if one person says no to using single-use plastics? What if one person decided to recycle their clothing instead of throwing it away? When we each make the decision to be more environmentally conscious, our actions will add up. At the end of the day, if you want to make a difference, you have to start with you. Every little bit counts! 

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