Animal Planet continues to confuse fantasy animals with reality

This is very disgusting, but not unexpected. Animal Planet Channel, part of the Discovery network, is showing a sequel to the dreadful Mermaids fake documentary.


Perhaps the most haunting, lingering imagery from last year’s MONSTER WEEK is the physical evidence linked to the existence of mermaids. In MERMAIDS: THE BODY FOUND, Animal Planet stunned viewers with captivating footage and an in-depth investigation of these fantastical creatures. Toward the tail-end of this year’s Monster Week, Animal Planet revisits this startling, groundbreaking topic in the much-anticipated follow-up special, MERMAIDS: THE NEW EVIDENCE, premiering Sunday, May 26, at 10 PM ET/PT. In an exclusive interview with Dr. Paul Robertson, former NOAA scientist who led last year’s investigation, journalist Jon Frankel probes for the unfiltered story and reveals new evidence of mermaids that only has come forward in the past year. MERMAIDS: THE NEW EVIDENCE follows a two-hour MERMAIDS: THE BODY FOUND The Extended Cut, which airs Sunday, May 26, from 8-10 PM ET/PT.

Last year’s Monster Week was anchored by the mermaids special which garnered them big ratings, caused viewer confusion, pissed off the government agencies and made the rest of us bang our heads against the wall since it was so insulting. So, why not do it again?

My main question is why NOAA scientist Paul Robertson would participate in this. [Edit: Not a real person. WTF?] What is the “new evidence” of mermaids? I don’t recall evidence of an aquatic humanoid coming out in Nature or Science. A body found? Nope, no it wasn’t. It would be a big deal, I’m sure I wouldn’t have missed that!


I am disgusted with Discovery networks. Between Finding Bigfoot and this joke, they can’t even do cute and interesting animals right. Is it more about the long discarded aquatic ape nonsense? Thanks for spreading misinformation [and FICTION] as genuine. Real good job you are doing there…


For other features of monster week, they are ratcheting up the hype:

DEVOURED: MAN-EATING SUPER SNAKE RETURNS, MAN-EATING SUPER SQUID, and prepare for an apocalypse of creatures invading beaches, attacking boats and ambushing humans like never before. Can they be stopped, or is this beginning of a monster Armageddon? Then, prepare for an assault in INVASION OF THE SWAMP MONSTERS and INVASION OF THE MUTANT PIGS..

and piranha cam.

All CAPS are original, not mine.

  39 comments for “Animal Planet continues to confuse fantasy animals with reality

  1. May 18, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Can’t wait for part 3: when Mermaids Attack!

  2. Chris Howard
    May 18, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    “The Bood Waters of Dr. Zatt” is the original “mermaid” documentary:

  3. May 18, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    No way, mate! Part 3 will be “The Human-Mermaid Hybrid”!

  4. May 18, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    How easily “educational” programming trades its dignity for ratings. Pity that there are no science or educational channels left that are completely free of religious, paranormal or pseudoscience shows.

  5. Pete Formaini
    May 18, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    The mermaids will be linked Benghazi in 3…..2…..1…..

  6. Graham
    May 18, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    I think “If it bleeds, it leads..” applies here….

  7. Ryuthrowsstuff
    May 18, 2013 at 11:34 PM

    The mermaids “documentary” was explicitly listed as fiction if you looked hard enough. All of their marketing and film itself on the other hand present it as based in fact/reality. There’s a smattering of aquatic ape in there to make it seem sciency, but for the most part its 100% created for broadcast, a fact they only admit when trying to dodge criticism. That’s WTF is up with “Dr. Paul Robertson, former NOAA scientist” a fictional character created for a fictional TV movie, along with just about everyone else in it I expect. It’s even more egregious than covering the usual pseudoscience. Its a straight hoax they’re pushing very hard, but they’ve built themselves a little shelter to hide in when the complaints pop up.

  8. spookyparadigm
    May 19, 2013 at 12:27 AM

    And given how much buzz it created on the internet, it clearly was a successful idea, hence why they’re returning to it. What’s fascinating is to work out what we should think of such, depending on the context. To my mind, clear context entertainment that all but hoaxes (the mermaid thing isn’t a hoax, and it isn’t not a hoax. I’ve heard Alternative 3 called a hoax, and it was more obvious in style at the end, if not with a single lame disclaimer hidden in the credits), I give a pass to. The Blair Witch Project in its final form (being released in a theater, having a trailer, etc.) falls into this category.

    But that’s not what we’re dealing with here. Had this same show been on the SyFy channel, I think a lot of the complaints would be hollow. But it is the context, the Discovery Channel, that is such an issue. They are burning their brand as an at least vaguely educational channel to run entertainment that specifically mocks and plays with their brand. National Geographic has been facing a bit of this recently with terrible pseudoscience sullying the National Geographic brand (and they’ve even admitted it, which is shocking). This won’t have any real long-lasting effects, except to damage the brand of the Discovery Channel. But its a basic cable channel, it is already assumed to be terrible.

    That Discovery is going back to that well, and a not even very good well that was only successful because it was ABH, is awful.

  9. May 19, 2013 at 4:22 AM

    For the majority of people mermaids go out of the window at about the same time as the chap with the red coat and white beard, however they can be a lot of fun and a little sexy. However the hypothesis which suggests that our ancestors were semi-aquatic, although still rejected by most mainstream evolution scientists, does make sense to many of us.

  10. RDW
    May 19, 2013 at 7:09 AM

    I miss the good old days when there was a lot of good science shows on PBS and the various other cable networks. It seems like nowadays, they’re not just pandering to the superstitious and gullible : They are trying to offend you if you have an intellectual capacity that is above average. I might be just imagining things, but The History Channel used to have actual history, National Geographic might involve geography in some way, you might actually learn something from The Learning Channel and you might end up discovering something watching The Discovery Channel. There might be a little of all of those things on some of those channels, but you’d have to struggle through a whole lot of worthless crap to find it.

  11. May 19, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    For the past few years I have done my best to not use the one word designation ‘animals’. I would suggest it is more correct to call our fellow life members ‘other animals’.

  12. May 19, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    Sensationalism sells.

    I love “The Blood Waters of Dr Z”, one of those great old “it’s so bad, it’s good” movies.

  13. idoubtit
    May 19, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    Nice job, Kyle.
    An Open Letter to Animal Planet: Learn The Difference Between Real and Fake Monsters | Overthinking It, Scientific American

  14. May 20, 2013 at 2:27 AM

    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up familiar with it.” This quotation by one of the world’s greatest scientists should always be kept in mind.

  15. May 20, 2013 at 2:32 AM

    With the above quotation in mind, the ‘open letter’ writer would be silly to dismiss the semi-aquatic theory of our evolution.

  16. May 20, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    Mermaids belong with the fairies, but if our ancestors had not learnt to swim we would have never arrived.

  17. Graham
    May 20, 2013 at 11:09 PM have updated their page on the original ‘documentary’ to cover the new program.

    God, those ‘mermaids’ look like the sea monkeys you used to see on the back of comic books…

  18. anudrake
    May 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Sigh, another round of crap. What surprises me the most is how some people really, really believe this and won’t pay any attention to counter evidence. No, that doesn’t surprise me at all, but I never knew there was such a thing as mermaid truthers who think the government is covering this all up. As seen in this article from last year:

  19. Douglas Boyle
    May 22, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    To really put into perspective how far off the rails Discovery Communications (and all under it’s umbrella) have gone take notice of the “Discovery Channel Telescope”. About 10yrs ago (when the Discovery Channel was about science and actual real learning) they partnered with the Lowell Observatory to build a new telescope, in 2012 when it came time to broadcast the documentary about this telescope after its completion the documentary was broadcast on the Science Chanel because it no longer fit with The Discovery Channel’s programming.

  20. Steve Chaput
    May 22, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    It really is sad, since my wife and I used to watch Animal Planet quite a bit. Of course, back then it was programming Animal Cops/Precinct, Venom, E.R. and other programs about real people working and saving real animals. I did get a kick out of LOST TAPES, but that was obviously fictional. The stuff on Bigfoot, mermaids, etc. is just insulting.

  21. WS
    May 23, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    While the mermaid thing is indeed silly, Animal Planet never put it out there as fact. The whole point was that it was a fantasy, done entirely for fun. I’m totally on board with the skeptic stuff, an experienced researcher and a bit of a crusader for the scientific method. But if you’re going to spend time and money going after the Animal Planet I’d rather not waste it on castigating them for a bit of creative fun, but instead put it to use in going after them on the biggest lie they ever told — the day they posted a dedication to Steve Irwin, promising they’d carry on his conservation battle — and about a week later were airing a documentary where Bear Gryls bit the head off of a live baby garter snake on camera.They continue to focus much of their funding on cruelty based programming such as River Monsters, where the host’s goal is to harass and traumatize, if not outright kill as many large river species as possible. If they want to have a little fun making a pretend documentary about mermaids– who cares? Everyone knows it’s fiction. They’re not hurting anyone, and no one’s forcing me to watch it. But their lack of ethics when it comes to animals in general — THAT’s a problem worth getting wound up over.

  22. idoubtit
    May 23, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    WS: I disagree. The line between fact and fantasy is CONSISTENTLY blurred with their programing. Some people were gullible enough to actually contact NOAA with questions. And I’m not even going to guess how many people think what the Finding Bigfoot people do is “science”. There must be a counterpoint to this garbage. As commentators noted, this would have been a great show if they were clear about the intent. They obviously were not.

    May 26, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    I think this whole thing has gone to far they are even making a second one they should be ashamed of themselves. I am starting to think they are enjoying duping people into this show. There will be a lot more outraged people on this site as the day comes to its conclusion. People watch certain channels for entertainment like syfy and chiller that promise fictional narratives however animal planet has to maintain to the scientific education that people rely on and they don’t have the luxury to air something like this.

  24. Stephani
    May 26, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    I have students that believe these “documentaries” to be true. They assume if Animal Planet shows something, it must be real. So disappointing.

  25. Tony Phillips
    May 26, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    You can’t compare this film to research on the creature Bigfoot. There are actual scientific measures being taken by serious anthropologist and zoologist into that arena. Tracks, footage and some hair and fecal samples have been obtained. Fact or not, I don’t know, but plausible, yes. Given the existence of the Giant Panda was considered legend until the 20th century, a large undiscovered primate might be able to exist unidentified and scientifically undiscovered. Now, for mermaids, it is a whole other matter, but…We have really only explored 5% of the ocean? Heck, Megalodon may still be out there somewhere! The point is, we don’t know everything, and to act as if science has already provided all the answers is at best, arrogant and self defeating for what science should be, discovery.

  26. josiah
    May 27, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    Yeah this show was a joke. Just an excuse to push hippie-commie environmental shit. Pretty weak.

  27. May 27, 2013 at 2:50 AM

    This is why we love you. Bringing this to our attention. I would have never figured out the first one without you.

  28. May 27, 2013 at 5:40 AM

    Aristarchus of Samos, told his friends that the Earth went round the Sun before two thousand, three hundred years ago. Only a few people believed Copernicus when he came to the same conclusion nearly nineteen hundred years later. Many laughed at Alfred Wegener when he proposed continental drift in 1912. In the 1950s, twenty years after his death, his theory started to be accepted as fact. Mermaids may belong with the fairies, however the aquatic idea is the only suitable conclusion to explain the emergence of man.

  29. May 27, 2013 at 6:25 AM

    Humans once shared a common ancestor with bonobos and chimps. If our ancestors spent some time wading in shallow water they would have been forced to walk on their hind legs. Also they would have been unable to learn to speak, if they had not first learnt to hold their breath to enable them to swim.

  30. May 27, 2013 at 6:34 AM

    Homo sapiens are the only Great Ape that can swim, Bonobos, Chimps, Gorillas and Orang-utans never learnt how to.

  31. JohnnyWest
    May 27, 2013 at 11:36 PM


    The word “explicit” means: Fully and clearly expressed, leaving nothing implied.

    Instead of a tiny disclaimer buried somewhere (which I didn’t see, but then I may have been out of the room), they should at least have had a large, clear notice at the beginning and the end of the show to state clearly to those gullible types out there that the show was a “mockumentary” and the evidence and people in it were totally fictional. This way you aren’t leading people down a stupid yet rosy path of mermaid madness.

  32. grovermantheevil.
    May 28, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    I thought the show was good. It wasn’t that crazy until they started in all the government cover up stuff. I came in half way and thought whoa, no way. I looked it up after I finished watching it. Like I suspected it was fake. Not really a big deal. It kind of sucks that I had to check the references of an educational channel, but I was thoroughly entertained. I think that mermaids are a much more plausible creature than big foot, and I think that even he is possible. Not likely, but possible.

  33. Graham
    May 28, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    In Australia in the 1990’s one of the free-to-air networks (Channel 7) ran a pseudo-documentary called “The Einstein Code” (On April 1) which used all the usual conspriacy theory tactics (Link every major disaster/assasination to the woo of choice,etc) and then ended with the program dissolving into static before the words April Fool appeared on the screen in large letters, then they rolled the credits.

    I’ve not seen either Animal Planet mermaid film but from what I have heard the disclaimers were flashed onto the screen after the credits finished rolling.

    Has anyone found out if the company making these films has any connection to an actual peddler of woo, as opposed to ratings hungry yahoos?

  34. idoubtit
    May 29, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    There is zero possibility of a human-fish hybrid like this. Bigfoot as a variation on ape or human is way more plausible since they actually exist or have in the past.

  35. May 29, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Our ancestors were once bony fish, as were the forebears of all land vertebrates. The aquatic idea was much more recent. It proposes that, about five or six million years ago, some apes were forced to wade in water and learn to swim. It is as simple as that.

  36. May 29, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    And has no real evidence to support it. It makes a bunch of just so claims that doesn’t match with either genetics or the fossil record.

  37. May 30, 2013 at 2:56 AM

    Not so, there is plenty of evidence. I’m sure that the water catalyst idea will be accepted in the same way as the theory of evolution within the next fifty years. There can be no other scenario to explain the emergence of man.

  38. so so
    December 16, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    They really need to be ashamed ..The sci-fi animal planet. .And by the is going to be” merman the underwater kingdom”

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