Long-Distance ‘Mermaid’ Becomes Celebrated Ocean Trash Hauler

Apr 24, 2023

There is so much trash in our oceans and seas that some say it would take an effort of mythic proportions to clean it all up. That hasn’t stopped “Mermaid Merle.” She isn’t afraid to take some amazing first strokes to fight marine pollution

Merle Liivand, who turns 32 today, started swimming in her native Estonia when she was a child. She moved to Miami, Florida, 10 years ago, to pursue her passion: monofin swimming.

Liivand practiced swimming in Biscayne Bay wearing a fin that looks like the tail of a mermaid. She was able to increase her swim time until she could swim an incredibly long way. She now holds the world record for longest “mermaid” swim. It is a record she set last week.  

Liivand swam 30 miles in just over 14 hours. This broke her own record of 26.22 miles.  She collected over 20 pounds of trash as she swam. She gave it to a team in kayaks that was accompanying her. 

The mayor of Miami Beach made Liivand’s birthday “Merle Liivand Day.” This was done to recognize her work cleaning up the waters and spreading awareness about how dangerous trash is for wildlife. In fact, it was her empathy for animals affected by pollution that inspired her to put on a mermaid’s fin in the first place.  

"These dolphins swim way more than 30 miles when they have to experience our flaws," Liivand told Axios.

Photo from Instagram courtesy of @aquamjerle.

What is the main idea of the article? (Common Core RI.5.2; RI.6.2)
a. Merle Liivand is a passionate swimmer who set a new world record for the longest mermaid swim.
b. Merle Liivand’s birthday is today, and the mayor of Miami Beach named it “Merle Liivand Day.”
c. Merle Liivand moved from Estonia to Miami, Florida, to pursue her passion for swimming.
d. Merle Liivand is combining her passion for monofin swimming with cleaning up marine pollution.
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