A Multimethods Exploration of Knowledge Sharing Platforms in "enchanted" Mermaiding Events
Mermaiding, the act of swimming in a monofin tail costume, is becoming increasingly popular. Although some merfolk (mermaids and mermen) only swim recreationally, many professional merfolk forge careers teaching at mermaid schools or performing at events such as birthday parties, corporate events, and special aquarium events. Many professional merfolk self-identify as ocean activists and/or ocean ambassadors. They use their performed identities and events as platforms for spreading ocean awareness and advocacy. Such exploitation of fantasy has been described within the merfolk community as a means to disseminate important conservation message within a positive outreach framework. This research explores the role of mermaiding and merfolk events in spreading ocean-related conservation messaging. It uses visual methods as part of a qualitative multimethods approach to analyze multiple sources of secondary data, including photographs, podcasts, videos, and blogs to contextualize the appearances of merfolk in performance events. Findings were used to produce a model depicting the creation of conservation-based knowledge sharing platforms through the incorporation of fantasy in and genera reenchantment of events.