For this Swim Guide Spotlight, we reached out to Raina, a mermaid from Halifax, Nova Scotia. To learn how she sees the role of mermaids in the water community.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Raina: I am Raina, a professional mermaid performer, children’s entertainer, and educator. I started performing at birthday parties part-time 13 years ago. When I graduated with a degree in education, there was a bottleneck of teachers, and I couldn’t get any work. I decided to build up my mermaid business, and now it’s an empire. I employ 15-20 performers who also have backgrounds in science and education.
We perform in travelling tank shows, public aquariums, and kids’ parties. We use these opportunities to give educational talks about our oceans.
I also have an active Youtube where we document our journey, have published three books about my “fishy business,” and often travel to the US to give talks. On the side, my team and I volunteer with many local and international causes for both kids and wildlife.
Raina: I love seeing the impact our work has on children. I met kids who are now teenagers or adults who tell me the effect meeting me had on their lives.
After meeting me, they were inspired to become more involved in caring for oceans, lakes, and the environment. When I was a teacher, I could tell a child these things, and no matter how interesting I made my lesson plan, kids would get bored. But as a mermaid, they see me as a being that lives in these waters. They take me seriously, and they take the message I give more seriously. It’s like a superpower.
Raina: When you break the word mermaid down, we get “mer = of the sea” and “maid = servant/female.” I see myself as a servant of the sea. I have this unique ability to bring a bit of magic into the field of water science. It’s a bridge between this other world. We can’t always see what is happening in our lakes and oceans. If we could see the devastation, we would address it the same way as we do with landfills or deforestation. People might be more inclined to take to action. I can bring them this point of view. While I try to educate and empower all ages, targeting children is a great way to ensure the next generation engages with these issues.
Raina: Believe it or not, I didn’t learn to swim until I was 17 due to many health issues. Even then, I was not a good swimmer. When my husband and I went on our first date, I drowned, and he had to rescue me! The mermaid work encouraged me to get training and freediving certification so I could be more a part of that world. Now, I am a certified freediver and can hold my breath for up to 3 minutes.
I love Bruce Lee’s quote about being water. I even have it tattooed on my arm.
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water into a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip, and it can crash. Become like water, my friend.”
This is a mindset I carry with me when I face difficult things. I meditate on it. And the place I like to do that best is IN the water! I love slipping under waves on a single breath of air and seeing all the life below. It’s magical and otherworldly. If I can’t get to a lake or the ocean, you’ll find me in the tub or a pool. I even named my new baby River.
Raina: There is a great book called “Blue Mind” that I think everyone should read. It’s all about reconnecting with water. Water can be scary and intimidating. But there is a hidden power; it is life-giving and nurturing. Swimming, walking near a body of water, or soaking in a tub are excellent ways to unwind. It’s incredible to think how this water we drink is the same water that was around in the era of the dinosaurs. It connects us all through time.
Raina: In Nova Scotia, you are never more than 15 minutes from the ocean in ANY direction. Just start driving! I love all of our lakes too. I have two favourite spots. You can find me in St Margaret’s Bay for ocean swimming because the bay is a bit warmer than anywhere else. It’s teeming with ocean life, perfect for mermaids, freedivers, snorkelers, and divers.
For lakes, I love a bit of a hidden spot. It’s called Anni’s lake. There’s no beach, so unless you know where it is, it’s hard to find. The lake is filled with fish, snapping turtles and painted turtles.The water is pristine and clear, you can see everything clearly without goggles. Most lakes are dark and murky. I love this one because I can see so much. Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/n9PFb9hkuhWsJXf68
Or: I will definitely visit those places. Thank you, Raina, so much for this interview. I think we can all agree that we need more mermaids in all our waters.
Check out Raina’s work at https://halifaxmermaids.weebly.com, http://www.mermaidraina.com/, or follow on Instagram @hfxmermaid.
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