1. The serpent-tailed water sprite of France

There are several famous mermaids hailing from France. One of which, Undine, was actually a water sprite. So we won’t count her. Melusine (may-luh-zeen) was a mermaid, just not of the type you’re thinking. Originally a water sprite, her mother cursed her for imprisoning her promise-breaking father in a mountain for all eternity.

Her punishment: to wear the tail of a serpent every Saturday. She was described as having a tail as thick as a barrel and fifteen-feet long. It writhed and wrapped itself like it had a mind of its own. Not attractive and not fishy. She turns out to be good, sort of. She does transform into a dragon and flies off in a huff.

2. The famous little mermaid from Scandinavia

So, we won’t get too into detail about how wrong Disney got The Little Mermaid. Long story short: Ariel gets burned by the prince, has her tongue cut out and then turns into seafoam because she won’t stab said-prince in the heart and bathe in his blood. This Ariel is more reflective of Scandinavian mermaids.

They tend to be fickle. Another Scandinavian mermaid is the havsfrun. She’s the knight kidnapper who sometimes lives happily ever after and sometimes gives him poison. Ask Ungersven how that worked out for him. Fickle, very fickle.

So, we won’t get too into detail about how wrong Disney got The Little Mermaid. Long story short: Ariel gets burned by the prince, has her tongue cut out and then turns into seafoam because she won’t stab said-prince in the heart and bathe in his blood. This Ariel is more reflective of Scandinavian mermaids.

They tend to be fickle. Another Scandinavian mermaid is the havsfrun. She’s the knight kidnapper who sometimes lives happily ever after and sometimes gives him poison. Ask Ungersven how that worked out for him. Fickle, very fickle.

3. The literal fish mermaid of Japan

The mermaid of Japan is called the ninygo. She has the head of a beautiful maiden… and the body of a large fish. Not just a tail, not some flippers. She is a huge fish with a lady’s head.

On the bright side, she is extremely benevolent. She’ll help stray fisherman and has been known to grant wishes. This probably helps people get over her… curious appearance.

4. The suicide case from Russia

Russia has some breathtakingly gorgeous lakes, such as Lake Baikal. They also have some creepy crawlies living in them. And they have some creepy backstories.

A rusalka is a water sprite that comes on land during the summer. She’s usually the spirit of a dead woman. She could have died a violent death by murder or drowning. She could have committed suicide. Instead of the man suffering the punishment for his crimes, the woman becomes an evil spirit and pays a double price.

Hey, maybe she drowns the guy, too. That’s what a rusalka does.

5. The Starbucks mermaid of Greece

This is the mermaid on everyone’s mind at five in the morning. Not a mermaid, she’s a siren. Still a creature of the sea, sirens were usually depicted with two tails for legs or two wings for arms. Hence why she has a “split” tail. She’s actually got two fish tail legs.

Since she’s a sea creature and she lives in the water around remote islands, I’d say she counts as a real mermaid.