Like Venus she is born of the sea. She is made of ocean ooze: seaweed, foam, salt, sand and mud, but mostly microscopic plastic particles that have slowly broken down after a long travel across the open sea. The fibre from ancient beings sank to the bottom of the sea, where it was compressed into oil over millennia, until humans extracted it to arrange into the polymer chains of plastic. In the warm, salty soup of the ocean, latent organic chemicals retain the ability to rearrange back into life, while incorporating some of the hard, inert, plastic into its structure.

She is tough yet flexible.
She is immortal yet she can be reborn.
She can be see-through or opaque (literally and figuratively speaking).

Other types of DNA found their way into the mix as well, she shares genes with microorganisms, sponges and octopi. Her cells live in symbiosis with dinoflagellate algae, she can indirectly photosynthesize. The algae gives her some of the energy they harness from the sun, in exchange for the habitat her skin provides, and together she and the little beings bioilluminate. From her sponge siblings she has the ability to dis- and reassemble. Her octopi genes gave her color changing skin.

Sirens, mermaids, nereids, nymphs, and Hafgúa are not only bad omens, they themselves pose a threat to those who encounter them. Following the use the name Hafgúa name back in history reveals other forms that she has taken (Koesling unpubl.). She has been a giant squid, like the kraken. She has also been a whale so large that it is mistaken for an island. All of these creatures are deadly. They share a latent danger, they are concealed either completely, as with the kraken in the deep, or present themselves to be something appealing, peaceful or benign, before they strike.

“We may assume we understand what a mermaid is, but as we look more closely, we can only, I argue, comfortably assert that she is a figure of contradiction that extends beyond simple binaries (i.e. woman/fish, woman/bird, mortal/divine, Christian/pagan, artificial/biological, etc.) and that takes shape primarily in a series of competing depictions. She is a figure who gains her identity through a deep incoherence.”

-Tara Pedersen: Mermaids and the Production of Knowledge in Early Modern England. Ashgate: Farnham & Burlington 2015.