Just in case you didn’t know, there is such a thing as a “professional mermaid.” Not only that, but they’re a lot more than just pretty faces wearing fish tails!
Elle Jimenez has been a professional mermaid for several years, delighting fans at aquariums and pools in Florida, the Bahamas, and beyond. She recently traveled to Catalina Island, California to teach an advanced mermaid course certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI).
Elle and her class were practicing rescue techniques in open water when they heard a commotion nearby. Pablo Avila, Joshua Claramunt, and Javier Claramunt were scuba diving when suddenly Pablo lost consciousness in the water. Weighed down by his heavy scuba gear, he began to sink.
Joshua and Javier were trying to pull him to safety when the mermaids heard their calls for help. In seconds, Elle and two others raced toward them in their fins.
Two of Elle’s fellow mermaids have PADI certifications that made them qualified to help Elle with the rescue response. Elaine Marie Garcia holds a PADI certification in scuba diving and is also a firefighter, and Great Chin Burger has a PADI certification in freediving safety.
It turns out, Pablo was in good hands. Or fins, as the case may be. Elle, Elaina, and Great Chin rushed to Pablo’s side and immediately took off his gear to lessen the weight.
“We’re pulling him, and we’re getting a little winded, and then out of nowhere, just a bunch of mermaids show up,” Joshua recalled incredulously.
“I gave him rescue breaths in the water,” Elaina explained. “My training kicked in, and I had the muscle memory I needed to get his scuba gear quickly and efficiently off. Great Chin helped me remove his weights, and all the while giving a breath every five seconds.”
Photographer Darren Joshua Leonardi was taking photos of the mermaid class that day. He snapped several candid shots of the mermaid rescue.
Together, the three mermaids got Pablo back to shore, where help was waiting. While shaken up, all three women were pleased to have been able to use their talents to save a life.
“I think we were all meant for these roles, and that moment proved we were exactly where we needed to be,” Elle said.
Elaina felt the same way.
“I’m proud of the way we handled the rescue,” she agreed. “It was absolutely a team effort. I also feel a great sense of relief that Pablo survived, as I believe it’s rare to come back from needing full CPR to breathing, talking, and smiling.”
Great Chin also expressed pride in their rescue.
“We all dived in to help,” Great Chin added. “It feels amazing to know I not only was able to help save someone, but that person recovered well [after] the last time he was in our arms, unconscious and not breathing.”
All three voiced their hope that people will realize that being a mermaid isn’t “all bubble kisses;” it also requires serious water skills and athleticism.
“We had seen the mermaids before starting our dive, and were thinking how cute they were,” Javier recalled. “Little did we know how well-trained they really are.”
Mermaids to the rescue! Javier said the rescue felt “like something out of a fairy tale,” and we have to agree. Thank goodness these highly-trained heroes were there when Pablo needed them.
Don’t forget to share this story to celebrate this rescue by some not-so-mythical creatures.
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