An academic squint at mermaids

Choosing to step in roundabout fashion into the question of the mermaid, Deep Sea News begins its mermaid essay by saying:

It is hard to know where to start in describing Karl Banse, professor emeritus at the University of Washington.  He is one of the world’s leading biological oceanography…. In 1998, the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography awarded him the A.C. Redfield Lifetime Achievement Award…”

After only brief further ado, the essay gets to the point:

Perhaps his most overlooked work however is on mermaids.  In 1990 the journal Limnology and Oceanography published Bane’s paper “Mermaids – their biology, culture, and demise”  (freely accessible here).  The paper is an abbreviated version of a talk Banse delivered in 1989 at a symposium held in honor of his 60th birthday.  Rumors in the oceanographic back circles is that lecture and subsequent publication were met with, ahem, raised eyebrows.  After all, the discussion of the science of a fictitious creature is not proper for either a serious scientific conference or publication.

Here’s further detail from the paper:


(Thanks to investigator Sally Shelton for bringing this to our attention.)