Shayanna Knaub she/her, age 33
How did you first begin your mermaid journey?
My mermaid journey really began by seeing photos on Instagram of Finfolk Productions mermaid tails and admiring how beautiful they were. My sister then got me a Finfun tail for my birthday and as soon as I hit the water in a tail I was hooked. I never felt so natural and happy living out a fantasy of mine. From there it spiraled out of control falling in love more with Finfolk's tails. Now I am fortunate enough to own a secondhand silicone tail of theirs and some of their fabric tails. If a 16 year old me could talk to present me now I would love to tell her that I get to live out our dream wearing/swimming/creating magic in a mermaid tail!
What does being a PADI mermaid mean to you?
Being a PADI mermaid does help make me feel more confident. I feel like by having to go through certification it taught me skills for some maneuvers I was not sure about before and helped hone some skills I already had. Now I also feel when I am performing I do also now have safety in mind which is ever critical.
What are you doing with your certifications?
Currently I do get to perform as a mermaid from time to time as part of a character party company. I did also get the chance to audition for the Circus Siren Pod and again having these certifications for both PADI Mermaid and PADI Freedive in my opinion did help make me feel confident and have an edge. I do hope to continue to practice and trying to get more opportunities to do mermaid performances.
What goals do you have in the future?
If I had my dream situation I would be able to do performances in a tank setting showing magic to the public and be able to use that as a platform to have conversations about conservation efforts for our oceans. I also have been dabbling and working with a mushroom/permaculture company in my area growing and cultivating spirulina. My hope would be to be able to expand and share the growing practices with others. Spirulina is such a nutritious product with great benefits and compared to other agricultural products it has a very low impact/footprint. Plus who wouldn't want spirulina (a blue green algae) grown by a real mermaid.
What made you decide to go with Mermaid Freedive for your mermaid and/or freedive certifications?
It was an easy choice honestly! After looking at videos and reading about the program as a whole I knew it would be an amazing experience. To be able to have such an intensive and inclusive program which combines both the freedive and the mermaid component together just again seems to make the most sense! Plus to be able to learn with such talented instructors who truly work with the students almost entirely one on one to be able to set them all up for success was something that was important to me.
What is your favorite part
about Mermaid Freedive?
This is a tough one just because there were so many parts. I would say getting to meet such an amazing group of people as my fellow "camp mates" was truly an honor. We all got to share in the triumphs and help each other when we struggled. To come together with basically a group of strangers and by the end of a few days feel such a strong bond with those same people is something
special. We all had such fun and got to be silly with each other and get to see the magic of the springs.
What is your conservation initiative and how do you plan to use it?
RIght now given the area where I live and what is around me in Central PA I would say my efforts for conservation would lie with spirulina/permaculture. As mentioned before I have been learning and getting some chances to work with a mushroom/permaculture company called Mycosymbiotics. Permaculture can provide systems for farmers to best work with the land around them and work in a manner that benefits the ecology for those areas. Spirulina is something that is a very nutrient dense for its overall "size" and can be grown relatively easily with little carbon footprint. As a whole we do need to adjust our current mass agriculture processes because they are creating a detriment to our land.
My heart will always be with the ocean and someday in the future when I am closer to a major body of water I truly wish to be involved in helping restore our coral reefs as they are the ecosystem with so much biodiversity and where my mersona would live as well.
image of Shayanna's Spirulina cultures
Is there anything else you'd like to tell our audience about yourself and your journey?
Mermaiding has been a source of joy and magic for me. From the very first time I donned a tail and had the chance to swim with it I knew this was what I was meant to do. My involvement and depth into the mer world has only grown since then. I have had the chance to meet so many amazing new people because of mermaiding and getting to do things I only ever dreamed of. I have grown so much as a mermaid but am humbled and excited to learn new things. The next thing I want to do is find some local places where I can practice my freedive techniques and help increase my breath hold which will definitely help level up my mer game!