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If mermaids were real, they would know all too well the threat that litter poses to the ocean. But there are two land-based mermaids, Melanie and Claire McDaniel, who understand how dirty waterways affect the ocean. This mother-daughter duo created a small business called In Your Element Mermaids that performs for special events and birthday parties. Their love for mermaids has started a fun conversation around marine and environmental education. They work hard to keep their local Edmonton creek clean and lead shoreline cleanups in their community.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup caught up with them to find out more about how their passion for mermaids and shorelines inspires them to clean the world around them.
Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup: How are mermaids involved in your life?
Melanie: When Claire was six, she told me out of the blue: “I want to swim like a mermaid.” As a child, I had always wanted to swim like a mermaid too, and I used to pretend I was a dolphin making my poor grandmother pretend to train me and throw me a fish from the side of her pool.
I decided to search online to see if it was possible to purchase a monofin, and Santa brought Claire one for Christmas. After seeing this tail in action, I absolutely needed one too. When I put on my tail I feel like a kid again, and you couldn’t get me to leave the water.
GCSC: Tell us about your shoreline.
M: Our family helps keep White Mud Creek clean, a small creek in Edmonton that runs through a residential area. It’s surrounded by some steep hills and cliffs, wetland type bog (where moose can be found) and woodlands. The trail running through it is a great spot to enjoy a little bit of the wildlife in the city, such as birds, beavers and chipmunks.
GCSC: What is your connection to your shoreline?
M: The shoreline is a part of me, whether it be the beaches of Whytecliff Park and English Bay or the salmon streams of the Fraser River in Vancouver where I grew up. Now it’s the areas around Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River where I live today. I’m a water person!
Claire: I really like fish and other aquatic plants and animals (and swimming!). I love walking through Whitemud Creek Park to find forest animals, and I like to explore other shorelines like the ocean for shells and to find birds.
GCSC: Why did you want to clean your local waterway?
M: I feel we should respect the environment and do our part in protecting it, like keeping a shoreline tidy once every few months. When we tidy, it gives others the initiative to protect and get involved themselves.
C: I want animals and wildlife to be safe from garbage like plastic or toxic things. I pick up garbage and that helps! If people don’t go out and enjoy nature then they won’t help nature so it’s good to get outside!
GCSC: What is the strangest litter item you found?
M: We once found a Halloween costume. It was a beluga costume for a child, which we kept and still use. Weird eh?
Watch Melanie and Claire in action on their favourite shoreline by checking out their self-made video of a snowy Whitemud Creek cleanup here.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, is one of the largest direct action conservation programs in Canada. A conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre and WWF-Canada, the Shoreline Cleanup aims to promote understanding of shoreline litter issues by engaging Canadians to rehabilitate shoreline areas through cleanups. Find out more atwww.shorelinecleanup.ca.