Mermaids are legendary fictional creatures said to live in the oceans of the world. They are characterized by having the upper body of a female human and the lower body of a fish.
Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures, specifically amongst sailors and residents of coastal towns. The first known mermaid stories originated in Assyria around the year 1000 B.C. According to legend, the Goddess Atargatis fell in love with a mortal man and accidentally killed him. Heartbroken, she hurled herself into a lake and took the form of a fish. However, her beauty could not be concealed, leaving her top half human. Most mermaid sightings today are either hoaxes or the sighting of sea mammals, such as manatees and dugongs.