Scuba Diver Rescued by Group of Women in Mermaid Costumes. "Something Out of a Fairy Tale."

“Little did we know how well-trained they really are.”

A scuba diver in distress was amazed when a group of women in mermaid costumes came to his rescue. Pablo Avila was scuba diving off Catalina Island in Southern California with his father and friend Javier Claramunt when he lost consciousness towards the end of the dive. While Claramunt was attempting to help Avila, the "mermaids" arrived and helped get Avila to safety.

"We had seen the mermaids before starting our dive," Claramunt said. "And were thinking how cute they were. Little did we know how well-trained they really are." Here's who the mermaids really are and how they rescued Avila.

Trouble Under Water

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Avila and Claramunt were diving off the coast of Catalina Island when Avila got into trouble. He lost consciousness, and Claramunt, who is well-trained for this eventuality, got to work trying to get him to safety. While he was trying to help Avila, a group of women in mermaid costumes appeared and helped to rescue the diver. "We're pulling him, and we're getting a little winded and a little tired out and then out of nowhere, a bunch of mermaids show up," Claramunt says. "It was something out of a fairy tale, being saved by a mermaid."

Mystery Mermaids

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The mermaids helped get Avila's gear off, gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and towed him back to Casino Point where paramedics were waiting. "We had seen the mermaids before starting our dive," Claramunt says. "And were thinking how cute they were. Little did we know how well-trained they really are." 


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The mermaids were actually a group of women training for the advanced PADI mermaid rescue course, run by highly experienced scuba diver and instructor Elaina Marie Garcia. The group could see someone was in trouble and in need of help, so they put their training into practice and helped save Avila's life. "We were practicing our mermaid rescue scenarios," Garcia says, "and I see him coughing foam, which is a tell-tale sign of air embolism."

Ready For Action


According to Marie Garcia, the sport of swimming with large tails has become so popular, large groups have formed—but there is a serious element to it. "It's not just blowing bubbles," Garcia says. "It's hard work, but it's worth it!" The group who saved Avila were practicing rescue scenarios when a real emergency struck, which is why they were ready for action.

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Full Recovery

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Avila was taken to a decompression chamber on Catalina Island, where several hours later he regained consciousness. The diver is thrilled to have been saved by the "mermaids"—and has the video footage to prove it happened. The mermaids are also very proud of their work. "Now I know I can rescue a scuba diver while wearing a mermaid tail, which I think is crazy," Garcia says.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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