A new craze sweeping Australia in which people dress up as mermaids and mermen and go swimming has been identified as a safety risk by lifeguards.
Mermaiding has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, made more famous by the introduction of ‘mermaid schools’ on island paradises like Bali.
And North Queensland now has its very own collection of avid mermaid fans.
A group of women and one man don their mermaid tails weekly as part of the Townsville Mer Pod, and congregate at public pools to put their skills to the test.
Member Bianca White told Sky News the group is more like a community.
‘I feel very included – its just like I’m actually a part of something,’ she said.
But the practice has been met with some apprehension by lifeguards and Royal Life Saving WA.
‘Obviously if there are young children doing it unsupervised or weak swimmers obviously there is a risk there,’ lifeguard Russell Blanchard said.
A study conducted by Royal Life Saving WA found that tails could impede swimming ability by up to 70 per cent, particularly in children, and they are not recommended for children under seven.
The Townsville Mer Pod is just one example of the craze that has been seen around the world.
Tails also vary in size, weight and colour.
The cheapest spandex tails are the most light and stretchy and considered ideal for beginners.
But as the ‘mermaids’ get more experienced, they don more expensive tails which can weigh up to 3kg when wet.