Government denies mermaids exist

National Ocean Service 'doesn't have mermaid science programme'

The US government scientific agency has taken the unusual step of publically denying the existence of mermaids, following the broadcast of a programme on the Discovery Channel's Animal Planet network.

Mermaids: The Body Found was screened in May, and presented a realistic but tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the scientific search for mermaids.

It is believed that some viewers may have mistaken the show for a genuine documentary on the existence of mermaids. Since the show aired the National Ocean Service has received enquiries from the public asking about their scientific research into the study of the mythical sea creatures.

The US agency has now published a blog article on their site confirming that no evidence has ever been found to suggest the existence of mermaids.

The article states:  "Are mermaids real? No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found."

It then goes on to ask: "Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That's a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists."

Mermaids are legendary sea creatures that have been mythologised for centuries. They first appeared in cave paintings 30,000 years ago and have since featured in anything from Homer's Odyssey to the seminal 1988 Tom Hanks film Splash.

In East Asia, mermaids were the wives of sea dragons. In Australia, Aboriginal people call mermaids 'yawyawks' – a name thought to refer to their entrancing songs.

Check out the trailer for Discovery Channel's Mermaids: The Body Found below.

How realistic does the trailer look to you? What other 'mythical creatures' will the US government deny? What legendary humanoids would you like to see on your gap year?