Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures, including the Near East, Europe, Africa and Asia. The first stories appeared in ancient Assyria, in which the goddess Atargatis transformed herself into a mermaid out of shame for accidentally killing her human lover. Mermaids are sometimes associated with perilous events such as floods, storms, shipwrecks and drownings. In other folk traditions (or sometimes within the same tradition), they can be benevolent or beneficent, bestowing boons or falling in love with humans. Mermaids are associated with the mythological Greek sirens as well as with sirenia, a biological order comprising dugongs and manatees. Some of the historical sightings by sailors may have been misunderstood encounters with these aquatic mammals. Christopher Columbus reported seeing mermaids while exploring the Caribbean, and sightings have been reported in the 20th and 21st centuries in Canada, Israel and Zimbabwe. Friend of the shop and legendary tattoo collector Tom Jesse, owner of a Sailor Jerry mermaid back piece, has also reported sightings of mermaids during his time in the US Navy. Mythical or real, mermaids make for great tattoos, and I was so happy to have the opportunity to do this one for Joyce!