Mermaids, for me growing up, were very important. Mermaids were real. That was it.
Of course they're real. You know, no matter what the government says, mermaids are real.
My name is Lauren Freeman, and I'm a real-life mermaid.
我的名字是 Lauren Freeman，而我是現實生活中的美人魚。
I'm Erin Gallager, and I am a real-life mermaid.
我是 Erin Gallager，而我是現實生活中的美人魚。
My name is Katie Shultz, and I'm a real-life mermaid.
我的名字是 Katie Shultz，而我是現實生活中的美人魚。
I've always loved the water. I've been a swimmer for as long as I can remember. And growing up in Florida, you went to the beach and you played mermaids. So, I've done it for years as a kid. Growing up, I thought it was the greatest thing.
Always loved the water. Definitely a fish growing up and have always really enjoyed it.
Oh, I remember when Lauren first came to me and asked if I wanted to help create the mermaid program here at the Florida Aquarium, and I immediately called my mom and said, "You are not going to believe this. I told you I was gonna be a mermaid when I grew up, and now I'm gonna get to be one."
喔，我記得 Lauren 最初來找我，然後問我想不想在佛羅里達水族館這裡幫忙創立一個美人魚節目時，我馬上打給我媽說：「妳一定不會相信這個。我跟妳說過我長大要當一隻美人魚，然後現在我就要能夠成為一隻美人魚了。」
I actually have a very different story from the other girls. I was born and raised in Arizona. So I was always in the water, kind of playing around. I've been diving since I was 12. But I don't think, even as a kid, I ever told my parents, "I'm gonna be a mermaid." Should I tell? What would my mother say? So, I was telling my mom about this and she was like, "Why, why do you do this?" and I said, "You know, it's something new. It's something just to try. It pays well." I kind of told her about that aspect and she, "Well, that'a pretty good. And you don't even have to be a hooker." So, I guess that was my family's take on it.
People initially are definitely a little confused. They want to know, "Well, what do you mean you're a mermaid?" So when I describe what I do that I literally get in the water and I am a mermaid, they have lots of questions. We are all professional divers here at the Aquarium. We do guest diving programs where we'll take guests in to do dives with our sharks. We also do a lot of the grunt work. We'll get in and clean the exhibits and that's not such a pretty mermaid task. But we do it anyway.
So it's about 3:30 right now. None of us will be touching our face.
Being dive masters of the aquarium, no one ever sees us in makeup. So, it's really a transformation.
We are definitely not the make-up pretty girls at the aquarium, 99% of the time. So to have our co-workers see us like this was a shocking change for them.
It does take a lot to get ready. The tails are so custom-fit that it's actually really hard to get into them. So, takes a good 10 minutes to actually put the tail on.
Swimming with a tail on and having your feet bound is a lot different than wearing fins and being on scuba. So, for us to learn to do it, and then on top of that, try to look pretty while doing it, that was the biggest challenge.
These are the hoses that we breathe from. Just like scuba diving.
I think people think it's easy. They see the finished product. They see us in there with our makeup done, in these gorgeous tails that we have, gracefully swimming around, doing choreograph routines to music. Takes a long time to get there.
To look comfortable while holding your breath underwater, and not look like you're in pain or the salt water is in your eyes, and there's fish everywhere.
To be a mermaid everyday is something that I never thought I would get to do. But to be able to come to work and do something that I've always loved, I've always wanted to do with people that are my friends, is fantastic. It's really a dream come true.