This is the community of men and women who are giving up their lives on land for a permanent sea life as mermaids. Gaining followers across social media, the group have decided to make more of a life in the ocean, and even wear silicone fish tails to swim through the waters.
The community is making waves in Seattle, Washington, where Ed Brown, Tessie LaMourea, Morgan Caldwell and Caitlin Nielsen are members. Caitlin, also known as Mermaid Cyanea, quit her job in 2015 to concentrate on being a mermaid full-time . The biology graduate uses her identity to promote her passion for ocean conservation and her knowledge adds realistic details to her mermaid persona.
The community of merpeople is growing rapidly in Seattle The 32-year-old from Seattle spends her time swimming in lakes and posting videos and photos to her online following. She also has a workshop where she crafts handmade silicone mermaid tails. Caitlin said: "When I was in kindergarten and the teacher asked everyone to go around and say what they wanted to be when they grew up, I said 'a mermaid.' "Everyone laughed at me and now here I am - I'm a mermaid. I'm literally a real life mermaid. "What inspired me to be a mermaid is hard to say. It's actually the fact that I've always felt I was a mermaid.
"Ever since I saw Disney's Little Mermaid when I was very young and I also watched the movie Splash with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. "Both of my parents are marine biologists, so I grew up knowing a lot about the oceans, spending a lot of time at the sea shores and really feeling like I was meant to be in the ocean, so when I saw mermaid movies it sort of resonated with me." Caitlin identifies with being a mer-person so much that she likens her glimmering scales to a prosthetic limb. She said: "I do feel like my tail is a part of me, and I do actually feel like it is a prosthetic limb. "I sometimes joke that I wear a prosthetic because I was born with a terrible birth defect - which is legs.
The merperson identifies as asexual and prefers to be known by the pronoun 'they' "When my tail is off I feel a little bit awkward. Suddenly I have legs and I don't know what to do with them. I feel extremely clumsy." There is a prevalent mer-community in Seattle. Her friends Ed Brown, Tessie LaMourea and Morgan Caldwell also identify as part-fish-part-human. Being a merperson isn't just a hobby for Ed, it has become a lifestyle. Ed also identifies as being a non-binary, asexual person. The 24-year-old prefers to use the pronouns 'they' instead of 'he.' But becoming a merperson has helped the Disney fan come to terms with their sexuality and the social anxiety it caused.
Ed said: "The best part of being a merperson is the chance to live out a dream or fantasy that a lot of people, especially kids, have. You know you can put on a costume and become a magical creature and be something other than who you are for a little while. "I'm still being me but I'm being more of myself than I might feel comfortable with just in my day-to-day life." As well as working on a boat, Ed - whose mer-name is Mahtlinnie - also lives on one, and spends most of his spare time effortlessly sliding through the water. Like Caitlin, Ed was inspired by the idea of becoming a merperson as a child, particularly after watching the Disney film The Thirteenth Year. Ed said: "Most merpeople have a movie or TV show that inspired them." Ed believes being the mythical-being is a chance to live out a dream, or fantasy, which allows them to temporarily escape from reality.
They added: "You know you can put on a costume and become a magical creature and be something other than who you are for a little while." Environmental policy student Tessie agrees. She was inspired to become a mermaid ever since she attended a magical mermaid school in the exotic Philippines three years ago. And once she slides her tail on and becomes Mermaid Essie, she claims her worries disappear and the magical feeling of invincibility and power arises. Tessie, 24, said: "I have a lot of body insecurities , I think a lot of people do. When I am in my tail I don't feel insecure anymore. Because it suddenly doesn't matter what size I am because I am a mermaid and that is what people really focus on. "When I take my tail off it almost feels like a piece of me has come off, that I am in a weird limbo. It's very vulnerable feeling. It is an odd feeling for sure."
Using her mermaid status, she tries to promote ocean conservation and raise awareness through education. The mermaid trio frequently swim together and join each other on themed photoshoots. Ed said: "When I'm in the water with my tail on, it's just like magic. "I could never have a bad day swimming, no matter what happens. If I put on my tail, I have done swimming, it's automatically good day." As well as raising a few eyebrows at the local swimming pool, the merfolk's friends and family have had to get used to the idea of having a fishy friend. Although Tessie's mother is supportive, she finds the concept of being a mermaid ridiculous.
Tessie said: "I do always see myself being a mermaid forever." Caitlin added: "Being a mermaid, I don't feel that I'm hiding anything I really do feel like I'm being the true me." Caitlin, Tessie and Ed have dedicated their lives to becoming 'merfolk', and say they are never happier than when they are frolicking in the foamy waters.