If you’re a true Mer, chances are you’ve heard the ocean call you. Of course you always had a love for the ocean, but the calling is something else entirely. Sometimes the calling just sort of hits you out of nowhere. Sometimes, Water goddess Yemanja herself shapes your life in that direction. For Mermaid Lanai, reigning Mer-Queen of the Mer-Orca pod, the latter seems more likely.
“Well I’ve swam all my life. But it started after a suggestion from my doctor to help expand my lungs since I had a major surgery.” She has one full lung and one half lung due to a Spontaneous Pneumothorax, also known as a collapsed lung. While there are many potentially causes of this kind of event, the spontaneousness of it has a tremble of the darkly divine in it. The spirits of the waves truly do work in mysterious ways.
After meeting with her doctor, she bought her first monofin, the Dol-fin. Then, shortly after, she found Mermaid Melissa on the internet. “She was my first inspiration, and Mermaid Kariel is my other one, she’s humble, friendly and loves the ocean just as much as I do.” This was all back in 2006.
Flash to today, 7 years later, Lanai is a leader of the New England MerPod, currently with a gorgeous silicone tail and a neoprene tail, both modelled after the Damsel fish. She has been a professional mermaid for the past 4 years.
As a mermaid, her message to the world as a whole is simple and beautiful.
“My message is to teach others to help our oceans. So much is hurting it, from pollution to shark finning. These are things that hurt our oceans, and the ocean has a delicate balance; if something goes wrong, everything falls apart.”
The mystery of the ocean had long attracted her to this work. In her human form, she works doing animal rescue. “The fact that there is so much unknown about it, what animals live there that we have yet to see. But besides that I love marine life, from the blue whale to the sea stars and everything in between.”
To children, she had another message. This message is one of faith, hope, and dreams becoming reality.
“Besides teaching children about our oceans, I also work to inspire and encourage them to achieve all they can in life. Even if it sounds dumb to someone, you could be someone to do something to stand out or even someone so important. I tell them no dream is dumb. Every dream has a path and because it doesn’t go in the direction you want it to, there are always other paths to get to where you want to go. To follow their dreams no matter which way it goes to get there.”
I have a similar line that I say to children and youth as well. I mean, just years before, I was sitting where they were, and now I’m half-whale. We as Mers are living proof that dreams can, and do come true with a little hard work and determination, and a whole lot of imagination.
Her final message to me was a message to her fans, as well as to other Mers:
“I stand out because I keep myself true, I don’t put on this little façade and fake act my way through it, I just be myself. Always be humble. Don’t judge others by their looks and remember being a mermaid is much more than having a tail and ‘looking the part.’ Dare to be different, be unique and stand out when you can. Don’t be afraid to be who you are.”