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    Saturday, July 13, 2024

    Mystic Aquarium offers rare opportunity to see mermaids

    Kacie Trout, in the role of Mermaid “Evangeline,” pauses to blow bubbles for the children watching her Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, while swimming in the Caribbean Reef habitat at Mystic Aquarium. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Danielle Vivarttas, in the role of Mermaid “Ulua,” chats with Jasmine D’Ambrosia, 3, of Plymouth, Mass. Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, while she and her fellow mermaids visit Mystic Aquarium. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Mystic ― For a short time, visitors to Mystic Aquarium will have the opportunity to see a rare and exotic sea creature in addition to the permanent marine animal exhibits.

    This weekend and next, visitors will be able to see mermaids diving in the main aquarium tank and have the opportunity to meet one in person.

    “When we’re in the tank, we do a lot of interaction. We will do flips and barrel turns, and we blow kisses, Just kind of hang out in the water with people and interact with whoever is there,” said Danielle Vivarttas, who performs as Ulua the mermaid.

    Vivarttas was in costume landside on Thursday morning talking to visitors about herself, her fellow mermaids and ocean conservation. Children and adults gathered around the aquarium’s main tank to catch a glimpse of another of the professional aquarium performers, Kacie Trout, dressed as Evangeline the mermaid, swimming among the tropical reef fish and eels.

    Vivarttas, who hails from Hawaii, since 2015 has worked with Wishes and Wands Mermaids, a company of professional aquarium performers who travel to aquariums throughout North America to entertain and spread a message of good environmental stewardship.

    Each performer has developed a complete origin story for their mermaid character and will share it with visitors during meet and greets.

    Vivarttas’ character got her name because she made her first dive to the reef off Ulua Beach in Hawaii. She tells visitors about Ulua’s life growing up there before traveling the world to talk about keeping the oceans safe for marine life and encouraging children to become guardians of the oceans just like the mermaids.

    “We talk about avoiding straws or looking at where we put our garbage, how we dispose of chemicals, and what we can do in our day-to-day life to help,” she said and explained that children often recognize the importance of conservation when it comes from a mermaid who needs their help to protect her home.

    The interactive show that visitors see does not reflect what goes into the production behind the scenes. Vivarttas said getting into the silicone tail is very difficult, and getting into costume and waterproof makeup can take up to an hour.

    In addition, she said there is a great deal of training that goes into diving in the mono-fin costume the performers wear, as well as safeguards in place to protect them as they struggle to see in the saltwater tanks they dive in. A safety diver is always in the tank with the performers in case they injure themselves or lose the hookah hose that provides the air they breathe while underwater during their 30-minute dive.

    The mermaids will dive throughout the day from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily from Sept. 21 through Sept. 24 and Sept. 28 through Oct. 1.

    Tickets for a one-on-one interaction with a mermaid are available for $10, which includes a meet-and-greet session and one picture.

    Visitors to the aquarium are encouraged to dress in their favorite brightly aquatic-themed costume because bright colors are easier for mermaids to see.

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