What does it take to be a professional mermaid?
Why do I do what I do? The way I viewed the ocean as a child was that it was very far away and inaccessible. I grew up in Pennsylvania, surrounded by land. I absolutely LOVED watching television shows that took me underwater (the usual, Jacques Cousteau, NOVA, PBS documentaries) and taught me about all of the fascinating creatures of our oceans.
I moved to Los Angeles from the east coast in 2003 after receiving my BA in Film and Science from Emerson College in Boston with the dream of creating wildlife documentaries for children. Living in LA finally gave me the chance to become a certified SCUBA diver and trained freediver! I saved up my sand dollars and made it happen. I quit my job in 2005 to launch my underwater career as a mermaid and underwater model.
I traveled the world with PADI shortly thereafter, modeling in their educational materials and campaigns. I became a Master Scuba Diver and logged dives all over the world. I made my first mermaid tail, a 35-pound silicone beast, who has now been in almost every type of body of water there is! I trained with world champion freedivers and have reached a static breath hold of just over 5 minutes and a personal best depth of 115 feet on a single breath.
My experiences diving with ocean animals have been pure magic! I mermaided amongst 34 whale sharks in Mexico. Unreal. I was awestruck in a suspended dream being surrounded by the thousands of pulsating jellyfish of Palau’s famous Jellyfish Lake. My heart pounded with excitement as I unexpectedly found myself next to a 30 foot migrating Fin Whale off the coast of California coming up for a breath. I laughed at the startled expression of the Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish) I swam with who was basking under a kelp paddy in the Pacific.
I love how sharks move so effortlessly through the water, and relish my time diving amongst them in the Bahamas and beyond. There is little else that fills me with wonder like the creatures of the sea.
In the early 2000’s, I realized that there wasn’t really an ocean program aimed toward children that was truly scientific and educational, yet fun to watch. It dawned on me that YouTube is one of the most accessible visual formats to the masses....and being a mermaid enables me to teach kids about the ocean and inspire them in a unique and fun way.
I came up with the concept of the Mermaid Minute web series so any child with access to a computer could learn about our oceans for FREE ;-) Now my YouTube channel is tickling 20 million video views and 30,000 subscribers. Needless to say, people love learning about the magic of our oceans! I get emails from teachers, kids, parents and all manner of folks from around the globe who want more. In 2014, I launched and completed a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign for season 2, which will be debuting on YouTube this fall. I’m so excited! There are surprises awaiting my sea fans in the coming episodes!
In 2013, I partnered with Body Glove International to create the Mermaid Linden by Body Glove line of kid’s swim products. I designed a monofin based on my crescent- signature fluke shape, which I find to be the most effective for speed and agility in the water. The monofins are now available and will be ready for online purchase within the next couple of weeks. Many more products will be rolling out over the coming months, and I am so exited to be an ambassador for learning to swim, swim safety, drowning awareness and ocean education. It’s a dream come true!
This is absolutely, without question, what I am meant to do with my life. Every time I have second thoughts about my wacky career path, and contemplate going back to a “real” job working for someone else, I shudder. It is very important to me that I continue to follow my heart and do something that not only makes me extraordinarily happy, but inspires others to love and protect our oceans. The experience has certainly not been an easy one. In the beginning, I was trying to start a company for which there was no business model. I made so many sacrifices to continue my work....and they have all been entirely worth it!
Creating this lifestyle and career has gone beyond my wildest expectations! I have traveled to so many far off places and met some AMAZING people! My quality of life has improved exponentially because I’m so happy. I am so fulfilled every time a kid splashes in the pool with me and remembers a fact from a Mermaid Minute episode, or tells me that they won’t let their family use plastic bags for shopping anymore. These little seeds that are planted can have a big and positive impact down the line.
I have oodles of plans for the future. Many of them are ideas that are an extension of what I’m already doing. I would certainly love to reach as many kids as possible with my message for our oceans. How will that continue...who knows? Nothing ever happens the way I anticipate it will. That’s all part of the fun!
Written by Linden Wolbert , California