Wednesday, August 30, 2006

'Merman' mystery unfolds

A day after I posted the 'Merman' story on my blog, David Emery (who writes for Urban Legends and Folklore in wrote about the same story and his insight into the so-called mystery.

As I mentioned, the pictures were first posted in eBay by a seller who calls himself 'seamystery'. Apparently, 'seamystery' has auctioned off items like this before, including one specimen billed as a Feejee Mermaid which incidentally was also up on sale on the website of a taxidermy artist Juan Cabana. If you go to his website you will see a picture of the 'merman' there.

David Emery wrote to Juan Cabana and asked, "Is this one of your creations?" To which he replied, "I got that photo from a fan of my site so I put it up. Never saw it before in my life. Looks real to me."

Emery points out that while Juan Cabana is well known among aficionados of "gaff art" (the construction of sideshow artifacts) and has even been publicly lauded for the quality of his work, he customarily pretends that the artifacts were discovered, not made. It's the "performance" aspect of the art, you might say. From time to time he does take credit for fabricating the objects, however, as when he appeared on George Noory's "Coast to Coast" radio show, for example, to discuss his "fantastic creations made from such elements as fish & animal remains, steel and fiberglass." And what should appear next to Cabana's name on the "Coast to Coast" Web site but a picture of the "merman" himself!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

'Merman' found in Teluk Bahang

Photos of a 'merman' has been circulating on the Internet recently. It was supposedly caught by a fisherman in Teluk Bahang beach in Penang. The 6 photos of the creature, taken from various angles, were attached to an email titled "Teluk Bahang Fisherman Found This! Newspaper Not Allowed To Publish?" When a reader forwarded the email to a local Chinese newspaper, the Department of Fisheries was contacted to find out more about the creature. An official from the department said that they had not received any reports about the odd catch, nor had they ever heard anything about such a creature. He requested that the photos of the creature's body be forwarded to his department so they could verify the incident.

The creature is vaguely humanoid in shape, its body is roughly the length of an adult man, with two long fins that resemble large ears on its head. It also has two arm-like projections, and is covered in gleaming scales. Did this creature really turn up in Teluk Bahang, or is this just a clever hoax? The photos certainly look real. If they are fakes, then a lot of skill and effort must have gone into making them.

Footnote: After searching through the internet, I found out that the pictures were actually from eBay. The seller in eBay claims that the creature was found in Fort Desoto Beach in Florida. The seller's id is seamystery. The bid was closed on July 06. The circulation of the pictures in Malaysia only started in August. So this explains that the creature was never found in Teluk Bahang. However, the question still lies as in whether the creature is real or fake. The winning bidder is mysterymuseum. His feedback on eBay was "REAL GOLDEN Mermaid - A Million Dollar Attraction - MYSTERYMUSEUM.COM-A++++"

What is Forteana?

Everybody loves a good mystery. From conspiracy theories and paranormal phenomenas to ghost stories and urban legends, people have always been fascinated by the unknown and the unexplained.

Forteana (or Fortean phenomena), named after Charles Fort, refers to the strange and anomalous phenomena which are rejected by mainstream science. Charles Fort (1874 - 1932) was an American writer and researcher into unexplained phenomena. For over thirty years, Fort sat in the libraries of New York and London trying to find reports of what are now popularly called “anomalies,” things that aren’t what they are supposed to be…especially in the eyes of science. By 1930 he had collected “some 60,000” of them, mostly jotted down on scraps of butcher’s paper. Fort was sceptical of scientific explanations, observing how scientists argued according to their own beliefs rather than the rules of evidence and that inconvenient data was ignored, suppressed, discreditedor explained away. Fort is considered by many as the father of modern paranormalism, not only because of his interest in strange phenomena, but because of his "modern" attitude towards religion, 19th century spiritualism, and scientific dogma.

Even though I do not believe in all the stories that I read and hear, I still keep an open mind on them and am very fascinated by them. I read and collect as much information about these subjects as I can as a hobby. I don't make assumptions about the information or draw any conclusions. I hope my friends and readers will share their experiences with me on this blog as well.