Hannah Fraser, eco-activist and professional mermaid, may be best known for her appearance in The Cove, the 2010 Academy Award winning documentary. Now she is turning heads and intriguing young minds at The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. Kayti Denham gives us a splashing tale.
Hannah Fraser, marine conservationist,model and performer.
Bahamas, 18 July 2011. As a professional mermaid, Hannah participates in The Atlantis Resort's entertainment shows and her appearances draw large crowds of all ages. While to some this may seem like a fantasy creature lifted from the stills of a Disney Movie, the reality can not be further from the truth.
Hannah lives her dream of being a mermaid. Her performance, combined with her commitment to the marine environment, creates a unique opportunity for the guests of the resort to engage with their surroundings. Through Hannah who serves as an ‘interpreter’ for the marine creatures, guests are able to understand how important the preservation of marine environments is to the successful progression of life on this planet.
Hannah's at home with rays in the "Ruins" tank.
At Atlantis Resort, Hannah swims in the “Ruins” tanks and the “Shark” tanks where some of the most elegant and haunting creatures of the deep can be seen up close. This includes a stunning manta ray with a three-meter ‘wing’ span, which is completely at ease with his mermaid companion and the Caribbean reef sharks that nuzzle her tail in curiosity.
Hannah explains her role as an interpreter. “In the beginning people ask me why and how I became a mermaid and I tell them of my life long passion for the ocean world." She has freedived with whales, sharks, dolphins, seals, stingrays, turtles and many other sea creatures. Her message is simple: the ocean's creatures, even sharks, are curious about humans and not necessarily vicious as some media has erroneously portrayed them to be.
In The Cove, Hannah organised with professional surfer David Rastovich the paddle-out at Taiji, Japan to tell the world about the brutal culling of dolphins. She uses her talents and skill as a breath-holding diver to educate and inspire people about marine life importance.
It is clear from the crowds at this entertainment park that gather to see her perform that they end up experiencing something very different that will no doubt stay with them for many years to come.
The program of marine care undertaken by The Atlantis is vast, and having created the second largest manmade open-air marine environment in the world - their property in Dubai being- larger, the Resort goes to great lengths to ensure that the beauty of the underwater world is not only stunningly displayed but well cared for. Over 200 species of marine creatures live in semi-permanence in the lagoons and tanks of the resort’s 34 acre waterscape.
Hannah Mermaid offers interpretation of marine life to humans by demonstrating close interaction.
All guests are able to participate in programs that open up the marine world to ‘outside’ eyes through interaction with the magnificence of the marine world. They are able to appreciate the variety of life beneath our seas' surface, and acquire a deeper knowledge of our world.
The Kerzner Marine Foundation, a part of the Kerzner group that creates the Atlantis Resorts, works with leading marine ecologists and scientists to create ways of sustaining and supporting natural marine environments worldwide. It is interesting to note that while words like ‘preservation’, ‘extinction’ and ‘endangered’ are well used; the reality is that 90% of funded conservation is focused on land-based projects. When you consider that 70% of the planet is made up of the world’s oceans, and that people cannot live without water, it may occur to you, as it did to the executives of the Kerzner Foundation, that our greatest resource is in peril.
The Atlantis Resorts in The Bahamas and Dubai have a desire to create a beautiful world in harmony with itself, seeking to do this through their programs - like inviting a real live mermaid to ‘interpret’ for the graceful creatures of the deep. They hope to plant the seeds of a shared understanding of the importance of the oceans to our continued well being.
This to Hannah means more than just a ‘mermaid show’; it also means keeping that innate connection to the marine ‘kingdoms’ alive even long after childhood. It was Hannah's dream as a little girl to grow up to be a mermaid.
"In understanding that the dreams of childhood can come true, the children I talk with can feel that they too are able to realize their dreams. When you have that kind of belief in yourself you are free to think positively about your world," says Hannah. "Children are innate lovers of animal life, they spend hours in communication with creatures, real and imagined, and it is only with age that they disengage from this and this need not happen.”
If one child walks away knowing that dreams can and do come true, and yet another falls in fascination with life under the sea, Hannah the Mermaid feels that her work is being done.
“My dream as a child was to be a mermaid, to be one with the creatures of the underwater world. Now it is to share this world with each person who asks.. So, why did you want to be a mermaid?”
Photos courtesy of Aestheta and HannahMermaid.com
For more information, visit: http://www.hannahfraser.com/mermaid/