This week I caught up with our lovely sponsor Dana Mermaid, I learned so much from chatting with her.. I simply envy her dreamy life. Go ahead, get reading! There's a giveaway too!
Elise: Okay lovely Dana, let's start with the basics. What are your passions? Favorite hobbies? Greatest indulgences?
Dana: The sea. Whales and dolphins by far are my favorite. I always make time to be with them, although I love all sea creatures including sharks. Inspiring people, living with a heart wide open and truly making a difference in the lives of another. I feel like I indulge in my heart's desires most often and am blessed with the freedom here in Hawaii to do that, either getting lost in the valley with rainforest and waterfalls, or undersea with my familiar dolphin friends, sleeping next to the ocean while whale song vibrates around me, and sometimes just sleeping in and just hanging out with my dog "Nalu"! I have a thing for shells, I've even had to bring empty suitcases to bring back shells on my trips!
Elise: Wow girl! Sounds like you just love living!! I once had a dog named Nalu too! Great choice in a name. If you could choose one quote that really resonates with you, and why?
Dana: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson. I think this might be the one; there are so many quotes that inspire, but this one ties it in. I've always been know to dance to the beat of a different drum and in this somewhat crazy world we live in so many people tend to think their path is the right one or the only one. I think the most important thing to remember is that although we each have our unique path, our goal is to let our light shine and add to the beauty of the world rather than trying to be what someone else wants, this way we can serve our purpose here and truly make a difference. There is something for everyone.
Elise: THAT my friend is so true, and it is something I really admire about you! I had never seen someone do what you do..It seems as if all you do is play in the ocean everyday with beautiful sea dwelling souls, and you are often the subject for photographers. Is this your career or do you have a “job”?
Dana: Yep, this is my career, I'm a full time mermaid! I do occasionally get hired out as a free lance boat captain or dolphin guide, underwater photographer as well, so my mermaid biz does has a number of sea weed branches swimming off of it so to speak.
Elise: I'm so excited about this that I just giggled outloud! I'm in love with the fact that a little girl could say she wants to be a mermaid when she grows up, and SHE CAN! Who makes your beautiful and detailed mermaid tails, what materials are used for the scales and fin?
Dana: I know! It's one of the best parts of what I do is making the unbelievable believable! Having little girls look up at me with stars in their eyes is beyond the absolute best. I design and hand make all my memraid tails! There is about 400-600 hours of creation in each tail depending on how elaborate the design. The base materials are wetsuit material/neoprene, and then a fiberglass fin structure or a redesigned monofin that I hand carve, glue and sew. I have even used real fish scales on one of my tails!
Elise: I had no idea you made those yourself! Quite creative you are! Can you name one time while swimming under the sea that really sticks out in your mind? What about it made such a big impact?
Dana: I swam in the Austral Islands for a 5 year old little girl who is completely mesmerized by mermaids, she was squealing running up and down the beach (she only spoke french) and kept repeating, “la sirene, la sirene!” It was such a magical treat!
Elise: Amazing! Sounds like a scene from a dreamy movie! Where in the world has mermaiding taken you? Of those places you have traveled which is your favorite?
Dana: Mermaiding has taken me to California, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Bahamas, Tahiti, Raiatea, Australe Islands. They've all been amazing experiences, but Raiatea (in Tahiti) and the Australes are my favorite.
Elise: And you live on the Big Island, so you've got some beautiful places on your "done that" list! Whats it like traveling with your tail? Do you pack it in a board bag?
Dana: There's no other place like Kona in all the world. Tail travel is easier done by sea than air! I make quite the scene.. security loves me and they definitely know me here in Kona! I'm in the process of having a large case made that will withstand the airlines to make travel a little easier! The tails are an odd shape so finding them the right space is a bit tricky! I have special bags that they fit inside and I carry them on. Interisland flights they fit in the overhead compartments, larger planes I add extra cushioning and they get gate checked. They are seriously like my babies, so it's hard to let them be far away from me, one flight they rode in first class!
Elise: And I thought traveling with a board was tricky! You make finding sea life look like a breeze. I honestly believe you live in the ocean only coming on land to update your facebook and make me wish I was hanging out with you so I could experience your daily life. What advice can you give to anyone looking for dolphin, whales, rays, and turtles when venturing into the big blue ocean?
Dana: I LOVE you!!! I do live in the ocean and only swim up to update FB. Not all are seen in one day..it takes being out on the water a lot to have some epic experiences as the animals behavior, water and weather conditions vary. The Hawaiian spinner dolphins are the only species of dolphins that are nocturnal feeders, so they feed off shore in the deep at night and then come into the bays close to shore in the morning to rest and play all day. Manta Rays go where the food is, during the day they can be seen in the current lines feeding on plankton, and there are some sandy beaches that turtles prefer to hang out. With all sea life I always give a briefing, that out in the ocean these are wild animals and it is very important to remember that we are in their home once we enter the water and to swim with respect letting the sea life guide our swim. I like to match the mood of whatever animal I'm swimming with. For example, dolphins are conscious breathers so they rest differently than we do.. they never completely fall asleep. They slow their heart rate down and shut half their brain down at a time with one eye open one closed, swimming rhythmically and staying deep then surfacing to breath at 10-20 minute intervals. It's important to not disturb their rest, never do overhand swimming or chasing, never touch or feed any sea life, always let them come to you. When dolphin wake up and are playful, diving down and spinning or echolocating, then dive down too, do some somersaults! Sing through your snorkel making sounds and see if they want to come check you out, the more calm you are the more comfortable they will be. Try to meld into the sea environment. Look for spouts, fins, and splashes. Also how ever many dolphin you see on the surface, there is usually double that under the surface! During humpback whale season there are days when they are less active on the ocean surface which means there is a whole world of action going on below! I feel pretty blessed as I've been swimming here in Kona almost daily for the last 11 years and I know the spinner dolphin by each pod, and several by name from their markings.
Elise: I truly envy you! Such great advice, thank you! Just one last question for you wonderful Dana, any big goals for 2012?
Dana: I have seen a lot, but not all! Big goals for 2012, yes! Reach more people internationally to spread more of the ocean mermaid magic and truly reconnect the bridge from land to sea. I just recently became an ambassador for the Women for Whales Foundation and I would like to start a project with/for/and about mermaids worldwide with or without tails. A real mermaid is one who loves the ocean with all her heart (we do not all have tails), I hope to create more love and awareness for the ocean and all sea life, and continue to inspire the hearts and minds of children. I even have a really fun mermaid/surf inspired retreat in the works!
Elise: Beautiful! Looking forward to keeping up with you and marveling at all you do! Thank you for spending your time out of the water and here with me!
Beautiful Dana has teamed up with Salt Water Diary for a Giveaway of her wonderful 2012 Calendar! (YAY!!) I had the 2011 one and I'm framing the images they are stunning! I just received 2012's and I'm equally as thrilled!