Margaret River’s very own mermaid, Jacinta Williamson, is on her way to China this week to compete at the Nansha Invitational Tournament as part of the World Mermaid Championships. The passionate environmentalist has been mermaiding since 2014, and began freediving in 2016.
“I have performed at private events in Singapore and Australia, now adding China to the mer-resume,” Ms Williamson told the Mail. “Through 'Mermaid Adventures' I have combined my passion for environmental conservation, education and outdoor adventure into my mermaid career.
“I have over 10 years experience in the conservation field, having worked as a national park ranger and forest firefighter. I work as an Outdoor Guide and Professional Mermaid where I am driven by inspiring others to enjoy the outdoors, and to motivate people to want to protect this planet, in particular, its oceans.”
Ms Williamson performed earlier this year at the Asia Dive Expo in Singapore, where she was spotted by Nansha Invitational sponsors who invited her to compete.
“Thirty two professional mermaids will be competing over a three day tournament. Each day of the event, the participant numbers will be halved. I'm looking forward to networking with other merfolk during the tournament.”
Far from a bit of splashing about in the water, the skills needed to perform as a professional mermaid require lots of training.
“Being a mermaid is a lifestyle; Its more than swimming in a mermaid tail, it's about being an advocate for protecting the marine environment,” said Ms Williamson.
“On a technical scale (pun intended) you need to be a strong swimmer. Having good breath hold ability, or trained in freediving is helpful when performing, however not a necessity for recreational mermaiding, just swimming ability and water awareness.
“I like to highlight the impacts of marine debris and single use plastics. My theme is ocean conservation. In 2014 I explored remote areas of the Alaskan coast and came across plastics washed up ashore and floating in the sea.
You need to be a strong swimmer. Having good breath hold ability, or training in freediving is helpful when performing.Jacinta Williamson
This was the first time I was really exposed to the problem on a deep level. That experience has been a key driver in my advocacy. As a freediver I see the beauty but also see the suffering of the ocean as a direct result of human impacts and our throw away society.”
Ms Williamson will also perform with Southwest Mermaids at Busselton Jetty on Sunday mornings over the summer holidays.
Follow Jacinta’s adventures on Instagram at @mermaidjacinta and @mermaidadventuresau