Connect with us

Thai Life

Video Report: Phuket Diving – Mermen need skills to hang with mermaids

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: It wasn’t going to happen. After three failed attempts at completing a 50-meter-underwater swim – in a merman tail – it became startlingly clear that the island’s first merman might not be gold merfolk material. His freediving skills simply weren’t shaping up for high-end mythical creature status.

Things aren’t like they use to be. In the old days, merfolk merely seduced sailors or battled it out with tridents. Now the world has changed, and the sea has changed, those few mermen and mermaids still out there can flip their fins, but just don’t get too far.

Well, at least some of them. Kat Felton, better known around the world as Mermaid Kat, is about to break away from her Phuket mer-pod and depart for the Red Sea.

She will leave behind two or three working mermaids and one chubby, office-bound merman. Out of the over 100 merfolk she has certified, 30 to 35 of them have been ushered into the world as ambassadors to the ocean in Phuket – none, but one, have had to worry about an awkward frontal tail bulge.

“When I started some people had this reaction, they kind of looked down on you. Didn’t respect you,” Kat tells the three students in her last workshop on the island. “It’s hard work, you can be proud of what you do.”

Kat is serious, German serious. The course breaks down into three segments: written exam after a two hour lecture on environmental awareness and merfolks’ responsibilities as role models; technical freediving basics, including mono-tail swimming techniques; and modeling, above and below the water’s surface.

In sweeping brush strokes, Kat attempts to instill in her students her burning passion for environmental conservation. A graphic video of a man sawing off the fins of a live shark is played; she dives into the red water of The Cove, a documentary that details the slaughtering of dolphins in Japan.

“I cried all day long after that movie. From that point forward I became a vegetarian. It’s everyday life too. I don’t use bags. I don’t shower unnecessarily, ” she explains.

A 90 per cent or better is necessary on the written exam to be in the running for gold mermaid/man status. If you miss it, you can still make the podium as a silver or bronze certified merperson.
If you are a diver, then some of the test questions are pretty straight forward: Should you feed fish? True or False: I shouldn’t touch any animal underwater, only corals and rocks (trick question); True or False: More people die each year because of pet dogs than sharks.

For the underwater and above water modeling, you need to score a seven or better on a scale of 1-10. Having been Miss Germany 2010 along with countless professional modeling shoots, above and below the water, Kat knows exactly what it takes.

The difference between an untrained model and Kat is breathtaking.

The photographer working with Kat during the course, Adriano Trapani, puts it perfectly, “It’s like a car accident, you don’t want to look, but you can’t stop.”

For many, however, the challenge of being a true mermaid, or in this particular case merman, is your freediving skills.

So you can swim 200 meters? Okay. How long can you hold your breath?

To take home the gold, you must hold your breath for over 2:31 minutes; silver between 1:30 and 2:30 minutes; and bronze less than 1:30min. Lastly, it’s the underwater swim test in a monotail.

With a 95 per cent on the written test and the rest of the skill sets checked off for bringing home the gold, this was it for Phuket’s first merman.

Then it happened. Determination overtook the brain’s warning signs of rising CO2 levels and several laps in Andaman Ocean Safari’s beautiful pool were completed.

But as Kat pointed out, even after the beach photo shoot the next day, certification through her academy is just the first step – there are much larger battles to be won in the ocean, with or without a trident.
“Mermaids [and mermen] are also entertainers, models and freedivers, but most importantly, they are ambassadors for the ocean – role models that can teach children and adults about the ocean environment,” Kat says.

Kat’s departure from the island is no doubt a loss. However, it was wonderful of her to make merit by raising, and then releasing three more merfolk back into the sea: Vivien Seek, Sirene Serene and your humble author.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Philippines13 hours ago

ICC opens investigation into Philippines President Duterte

World13 hours ago

American general defends “clandestine” phone calls with China

Thailand13 hours ago

Countdown to October reopening; body of Koh Phi Phi resort manager found | Thailand News Today | September 16

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Visa14 hours ago

Hungarian woman arrested in Koh Samui for 10-year overstay

Thailand15 hours ago

Nakhon Si Thammarat reports Covid outbreak at prison

Guides15 hours ago

Most famous viewpoints in Phang Nga

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Blackpink15 hours ago

Blackpink’s Lisa causes sales frenzy for Buri Ram meatballs

Thailand16 hours ago

NACC ordered to disclose their findings regarding Deputy PM Prawit’s watch scandal

World16 hours ago

“Thai Taste Therapy” launched to promote Thai cuisine worldwide

Food16 hours ago

Food and drinks to stay away from in Thailand

Thailand16 hours ago

Ode to the Comments | Thaiger Bites | Ep. 19

Pattaya17 hours ago

Pattaya reopening likely to snub nightlife, favor other attractions

Thailand17 hours ago

Epidemiologists dispatched to Phuket to help curb the spread of Covid

Phuket18 hours ago

Phuket Vegetarian Festival gets “green light” to run from October 6 to 14

Coronavirus (Covid-19)18 hours ago

Thursday Covid Update: 13,897 new cases; provincial totals

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14 | Thaiger
Thailand3 days ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending