A day after I posted the 'Merman' story on my blog, David Emery (who writes for Urban Legends and Folklore in About.com) 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 http://www.thefeejeemermaid.com/ 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!