The real-life mermaid swims with sharks and jellyfish

2013-04-02 08:19:40 GMT2013-04-02 16:19:40(Beijing Time)

Meet the real life mermaid who swims with jellyfish and can hold her breath under water for up to five minutes

Linden Wolbert travels the world as a full time professional mermaid and uses her custom-made 6ft tail to propel her through the water.

The 32-year-old freediver and model can swim to depths of 115ft and uses her skills to promote ocean conservation and education.

Linden, from Los Angeles, California, said: 'I grew up as a water baby. My parents are both competitive swimmers.

'I always looked forward to going to the ocean for our summer vacation. I had a magnetism to the water.

'I've kind of always been a freediver but didn't realise the sport existed until ten years ago. Shortly thereafter, I when began training.

'Free diving is 70 per cent psychological. You have to be very calm and at ease in the water.'

Linden always dreamed of becoming a mermaid after growing up watching films like The Little Mermaid and Splash but it didn't become a reality until she got to know Hollywood special effects artist Allan Holt.

They spent seven months working on the 35lb tail, which was made from a fibreglass mould of Linden's body.

It involved sealing a monofin inside high-quality silicone to make it hydro-dynamic and effective in the water.

The thousands of fish scales were painstakingly sculpted individually by hand out of clay before they were duplicated in fibreglass and then the final mould was injected with silicone.

The whole project cost around £10,000 to complete.

Linden said: 'I was introduced to Allan through a friend. He wanted my advice for an underwater music video. I happened to mention I'd always wanted a mermaid tail but had no idea where to begin.

'Allan said he'd help me straight away.

'We set a budget at the start but then things happened. It ended up being way over but it was worth it.'My friends and family were all there the first time I used it in the water. I couldn't stop smiling. I couldn't believe it was finally happening.'

In some of these amazing images, Linden is seen swimming in Jellyfish Lake on the island of Palau, which used to be connected to the Pacific Ocean.

Since it has been cut off, it has become home to millions of jellyfish because they have no risk of predators. The 12,000 year-old lake is the only place in the world where you can swim safely among them - because the sea creatures have lost their sting.

Linden visited the lake, which is popular with snorkellers, during a two-week trip to the island. She said: 'I had been on a dive that day and had left my tail drying. I always bring it with me wherever I go.

'A man came over to me and asked if I was the mermaid that went in the tail. I said yes and he told me his wife was a photographer and would love to photograph me.

'It sounded like a great idea so we got a boat out to the lake. It was so perfect. It was the coolest thing being surrounded by these golden pulsating creatures.'

The images were taken by diver and underwater photographer Wendy Capili-Wilkie, who lives on the island.

Linden has also posed for shots with extreme sports photographer Agustin Munoz, from Costa Rica, in Deadman's Cay, Long Island, Bahamas.

She said: 'I love the feeling of freedom and weightlessness in the water. It's such a different sensation. It's very dream-like. The power of the tail is amazing. I can go very fast. The 'wind' in my hair when I'm diving under water is like nothing else.

'I've been diving with sharks. With my tail, I'm longer than most of them. Many people think I'm crazy to swim with sharks but I'm always surrounded by an incredible safety team.

'The sea creatures are very inquisitive. They come up to me to take a closer look because I'm not blowing bubbles like divers.'

As well as diving, Linden, who has a degree in film and science from Emerson College, produces her Mermaid Minute, an educational clips web series for children.

She offers her mermaid services to the Make A Wish Foundation, Reef Check Worldwide and several other non profits and charities.

Linden is also the 'mermaid to the stars' and has been hired to perform at a string of Hollywood parties, hosted by celebrities, including Jessica Alba and Justin Timberlake.


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