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One of the most legendary creatures of the sea are mermaids.  In classical myths, the quintessential beautiful mermaid often is seen seated on a rock, combing her long hair.  Magic mirrors were standard features of the lore, as were their pastimes of singing and enticing sailors.  The male equivalents of mermaids were also prevalent worldwide; they are known as mermen.  According to African and Caribbean legends, the mermaids called Mama Alo could transform and come ashore as cats, which is why stray cats in the West Indies were not welcome guests.  Despite many stories portraying mer-people as dangerous, they often provided helpful, guiding ships out of precarious situations.  In general, mer-people epitomized the mystery of the ocean realm and the human search for something beyond the visible world.

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