Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has been home to both live mermaids and mermaid statues since 1947. Located on the west coast of Florida, it started out as a private enterprise, and was later owned by the ABC news network, but is today owned by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as a Florida State Park. map
This sculpture stands at the entrance to the park, atop a 25′ pillar in the center of a water fountain.
Weeki Wachee Springs is the deepest (400′) naturally occurring spring in the United States and is the source for the Weeki Wachee River. It provides a steady flow of water (170 million gallons daily) at 74.2 °F year-round. The river takes a winding course for a little over 7 miles befores it flows into the Gulf of Mexico, and is a haven for manatees and other fresh-water creatures.
The live mermaids perform essentially just above the spring source, watched from a stage in an aquarium-like setting. They are thoroughly trained divers who have learned to dive for extended periods without masks, breathing from air hoses when needed, and able to hold their breath for several minutes underwater while performing. On rare occasions they are joined by manatees who have decided to join them at the river source. The park is open every day of the year, and there are typically 2-3 mermaid shows daily.
Most everyone in town knows someone who is or was a mermaid performer, and there are many reminders of mermaids around town.
In addition to the main attraction mermaid shows, the park also has river cruises and animal shows, a water park area with water slides and many gardens and paths with statues and other attractions.
In addition to the tall mermaid sculpture shown above, there are many other mermaid statues inside and outside the park, all of which have the more traditional single mermaid tail.
Weeki Wachee was and remains the original mermaid show. With the advances in mermaid tails and the increased interest in mermaids over the last decade, other mermaid shows have been opened, in Las Vegas, South Korea and Dubai.