Stories about mermaids are going very very far back in antiquity. The mythical creature of the mermaid/merman finds its roots from the Babylonians and Sumerians. They knew the god Ea or Enki, the god of the sweet waters, which is according to the mythology the creator and savior of man. He was depicted with a fish tail or a fish on his head
The capture of a water-being, 1739
The first mermaids, seademons, half-woman, half-bird, had chosen their domicile in the caves and on rocks around the Tyrrhenian Sea. Because of their gentle singing they lured sailors on the rocks. They are first mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, where they tried to exhibit Odysseus to their charms.
Odyssy ordered his sailors to put wax in the ears to avoid the singing charms from the sirens and then he ordered his crew to bind him on the mast to escape the singing of the sirens for he was afraid to fall for.
This story was used in the Middle Ages in church by the people to warn of the evils of temptation. At that time you could find in many churches, monasteries and cathedrals several images of mermaids.
Mermaids with fish tails were first described by the monk of Malmesbury Aldhem around 680 AD. Columbus saw mermaids on his journey to America. He did describe them in his diary which he took on his journey.
The middle age fantasy mermaid with a fish tail comes from the stories of sailors, who thought they had seen these creatures in the foam of the ocean and sea. In reality, they probably have seen seacows or manatees.
These mammals that live in tropical waters have an elongated shape, the females have nipples, what the image of the female body shape can compare with. Not so surprising that the gullible shippers could make such a mistake.
A famous modern fairy tale is “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen.
In the Netherlands, the mermaid of Edam, also called the mermaid of Harlem is known. This mermaid was in 1403 after a heavy storm, after the dikes were broken, caught in the Purmerlake in Edam she was brought to Harlem, where she had learned spinning and had a Christian funeral.
The story of the mermaid was over 600 years by many authors written. Muiden also has a mermaid legend, when fishermen release a caught specimen will she sings: Muiden Muiden will remain, Muiden will never endure.