Israel’s northern costal community is in the grips of mermaid fever. For several months, people from Kiryat Yam, near Haifa, have reported sightings of a young girl frolicking in the Mediterranean, jumping out of the water like a dolphin and doing other tricks.
The Kiryat Yam municipality of is offering a $1 million reward to anyone who can prove it’s a publicity stunt that the mermaid exists.
Shlomo Cohen, a former IDF career soldier, was one of the first to have claimed to have seen the mermaid some two weeks ago.
“I was with friends when suddenly we saw a woman laying on the sand in a weird way. At first I thought she was just another sunbather but when we approached she jumped into the water and disappeared. We were all in shock because we saw she had a tail. At least five of us saw it and we all couldn’t believe it.”
“Many people are telling us they are sure they’ve seen a mermaid and they are all independent of each other,” [Kiryat Yam] council spokesman Natti Zilberman told Sky News.
The nautical nymph is only seen in the evening at sunset, according to media reports, drawing crowds of people with cameras hoping for a glimpse.
“People say it is half girl, half fish, jumping like a dolphin. It does all kinds of tricks then disappears,” Mr Zilberman said.
Asked whether a dolphin or large fish could be a more rational explanation, he insisted: “They say it is a female figure, it looks like a young girl.”
The council denied its offer of a reward was a publicity stunt, but said it hoped to nurture the mermaid as something which could bring in more tourists.
Capturing a mermaid is not necessary, a verifiable photograph will do, Mr Zilberman said.
Asked if the council can afford the payout, he told Sky News: “I believe, if there really is a mermaid, then so many people and tourists will come to Kiryat Yam, a lot more money will be made than $1 million.
And hey, if you do manage to get proof of the creature, consider donating the prize booty to cleaning up the Bay.
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