For The Love Of Water: A Real-Life Mermaid

mermaid"The process of becoming a mermaid was quite indirect," says Linden Wolbert, a Los Angeles- based real-life mermaid.

An avid swimmer since the age of 3, Wolbert fondly remembers the first time her parents enrolled her in a swimming class. " My first memories of water circulate around dreaming I was on the crew of Jacques Yves Cousteau's Calypso and pretending I was a mermaid by kicking with my feet together."

Wolbert took to the water just like a fish and spent the rest of her time, from age 3 onward, following in her family's footsteps as a competitive swimmer. When Wolbert arrived at Emerson College to study Film and Science she stopped competitive swimming because her school lacked a swim team, but still remained close to the water, learning new skills such as scuba diving.

Wolbert moved across the country to complete her film and science degree and was then hired as residence director at Emerson College's L.A. campus. "I was on-call 24 hours a day for the students and worked in an office from 9-to 5 during the week. I did underwater film shoots on the side and dived whenever possible. It became clear that I should leave my job when all I did was think about being underwater, or my next dive," Wolbert recalls.

Armed with nothing more than a dream and a true love of everything H2O, Wolbert took the plunge in 2005 and set out on her own to pursue her dreams in the water, which, unbeknown to her at the time, would lead to a career as a full-time mermaid.

The evolution of a mermaid

mermaid-padiFirst, Wolbert became a Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) open water diver and was offered a job to be a PADI SCUBA model. Around the same time, Wolbert began to learn about a sport called freediving, or breath-hold diving, in which one dives for depth and distance. In 2004 Thom Shouse came into the picture.

Shouse is a world-renowned mermaid tail specialist, and was responsible for fashioning the mermaid tail that Wolbert sported in some of her photo shoots. Friends began calling her "mermaid" because she was always in the water -- and once Wolbert got a taste of what life was like underwater, wearing one of Shouse's custom-made mermaid tails, she knew what she had to do.

In 2006, Wolbert committed to starting her own business and becoming a professional mermaid. "I decided to pursue making my own custom tail since I loved being a mermaid so much and it came so naturally to me. I yearned to create a unique design myself," she says.

It's not easy being a fish

Being a professional mermaid is a lot harder and more intense than you may think. First of all, there is no professional school or organization out there to teach you to become a mermaid, or to provide you with a business plan or model to follow. Second, the task of creating a tail that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing is "daunting" as Wolbert says: " Do not be fooled... making a realistic and functional mermaid tail is no easy task. In fact, it was one of the most difficult and painstaking things I have ever done. I changed day by day. It is the most expensive thing I own," Wolbert says. Last, there is an enormous amount of skill that is required in order for the mermaid to be able to swim underwater for extended periods of time and to certain depths, especially with a tail that weighs 35 pounds.

After seven months of trial and error, Wolbert and Allan Holt, a Hollywood special effects artist and fellow diver friend, were able to fashion a 35-pound tail made of a high-grade silicone material for Wolbert. The tail also has a professional monofin built into the fluke for propulsion. "it is neutrally buoyant in the water, so it is truly meant to be in the ocean, and is a remarkable piece of equipment designed for speed and beauty," Wolbert says.

Wearing many tails on the job

Between running her own company, Mermaids in Motion, doing volunteer work (Mermaids in Motion has teamed up with 10 charities in the past several years, including: Susan G. Komen For the Cure, Dive For A Cure, Swim To Empower, and Project GrrL), doing breath-hold training and photo shoots, Wolbert still finds time to work on her list of career goals.

"When I'm not performing or planning a job or shoot, I am constantly spending time researching new ideas, training to improve my water skills, maintaining my mermaid tails, freediving, scuba diving and yeah -- sitting in front of my laptop for hours on end responding to clients and colleagues."

As if Wolbert's schedule isn't already packed like a can of sardines, she is also an international freediving judge for The International Association for the Development of Apnea (AIDA), judging some of the best freedivers in the ocean at competitions. She travels much of the year to perform as a mermaid for large-scale events and shoots around the globe.

The future for this fish

For now this fish is happiest in the water and especially when she gets to work with children and spread her love of the ocean to others. "I have a list of goals that I am always striving toward. Primarily, to reach as many children as possible through my line of work; encouraging them to experience the ocean for themselves, fall in love with it, and conserve it. I am certain that by reaching the imaginative and open minds of children, we are changing the way humans will impact our oceans in the future."

For those other water-loving merpeople out there, unfortunately Mermaids in Motion is not hiring -- but Wolbert encourages other swimmers and ocean-lovers to follow their dreams just as she did.

"Anything is possible if you truly believe in it... we each have our own unique path that brings us to our personal success. I just follow what makes me happiest. I pursue it with all of the energy I have and it feeds me every day."

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Monet Mccain

I need a free mermaid tail size 11 women shoe size plz some one help

June 30 2012 at 12:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

LOL>.this is killing me. Everytime I read a story and there are comments it might start off nice, but it always ends up with posters calling each other is a story about a womans career choice for crying out loud! lighten up people!

July 18 2010 at 11:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mermaid melissa

i am a pro diver, animal trainer for dolphins & killer whales, SCUBA cert, breath hold on youtube 4:18 seconds and also a mermaid :) check out my youtube page "mermaid melissa"

July 14 2010 at 5:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mermaid melissa's comment
Marissa Varner

Oh my goodness! I love your way of swiming with your tail! I think its amazing that you can swim with your tail on and not bend your knees! It's so graceful and beautiful, like a real sea creature! :)

April 18 2012 at 9:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In 1959 I worked at Disneyland as a mermaid at the Submarine
Ride. I was one of hundereds of girls who tried out for the position to be hired by Disney. Only about 6 of us were selected and I was the only one still in high school; I was a 17 year old senior at Tustin High Scool. It was a coveted position to work for Walt Disney. The costume Daryl Hannah wore in the movie SPLASH is the excact same costume I wore; it was a brilliant green. I have never kept in touch with the others and I hope someone will see this and will e-mail to say hello. Keep up the good work's much harder than it appears; you must be an outstanding athlete.
SUSAN (Musfelt) HOOSE age 69

July 14 2010 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hi Linden! Please send this story to Wilhelmina models in NYC, and LA! I was a model (years ago) and because I have very long blonde hair (they called me goldilock's) I booked so many "mermaid" campaign's. Such as one for "Sony Videos Cameras", Sun-in...anyway, I made up to five figure's a day doing this- so YOU go girl! Contact them- talk to their Modeling and TV division (it's only for commercial's-but they'll spend the time managing you) Actually, you may need a manager first, and they will work with the agency and your tv rep) and take a few acting classes, just in case they do a Splash 11. I'm VERY serious! Contact me, if you have any questions- You need to get set-up w/ the right people that are proffesional and can manage your career, so YOU can be in the water!!! Goodluck! Julie

July 14 2010 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Uncle Eddy

This is a great story.
It's good to see she found her porpoise in life. LOL
Seriously this was very good to read about

July 14 2010 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You can make a living at this??? Amazing. I would not have thought making the tail would be the hard part. I would think finding a job would be the hard part. . .

July 14 2010 at 1:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was just curious. How long can you hold your breath and what is your deepest dive. Please let me know when you can, thanks.

July 14 2010 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I regret to remind you that the genital/reproductive region of the mermaid is in her fish part, therefore she woud most likely discharge a batch of gelatinous eggs in a cloud to be fertilized, later, by some passing merman.I did see a HILARIOUs naughty picture of this illustrating Price Eric and Ariel once and he was most disappointed!!!!

July 14 2010 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's very,very nice and wonderful,
I'love everything mermaid,I desire and long to meet and experience her in my life if it's really the Mami Wata,
mermaid goddess(water spirit)she's my Queen,I call her my Queen because I love everything about her so much that I so desire to have an encounter with her some day,I'm extremly serious and I'm NOT in any way talking about ordinary human beings,No,No,I'm only talking about the REAL Mami Wata,
mermaid goddess(water spirit),
I believe that Mami Wata,mermaid goddess(water spirit)
exist,but I have not never see her both in my dreams and I so desire to meet and see her to have some communication with her for my personal and private reasons,

July 14 2010 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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