The ReaL Life Mermaid


330 Words 3-Minute Listen

A medical condition, caused doctors to amputate both of Nadya Vessey's legs when she was young. Now at the age of 50, she has realized her dream of becoming a real-life mermaid, thanks to Weta Workshop, an Oscar-winning special effects company, that brought us movies like Lord of the Rings, King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia.

A resident of Auckland, New Zealand, Vessey took up swimming after her first leg was amputated at the age of 7. Through high school, she swam competitively, even after her second leg was amputated at 16.

She never saw herself as a mermaid however, until a 4-year old asked why she was taking her (prosthetic) legs off. Not wanting to go through the process of explaining her amputation, she told him she was a mermaid.

That idea stuck with her and two years ago she approached Weta Workshop to ask if they could make her a prosthetic tail. To her surprise, they agreed.

The company had some experience with mermaid tails before, thanks to Peter Pan. However, those tails were directly applied on to the actors' bodies and only had to last until the film had been made.

Vessey's tail, however, had to be fully functional, pretty and last for a long time. Using 3-D modeling, the company hand-crafted a custom-made tail using a combination of neoprene and Lycra. The outer layer has been hand-painted with mermaid scales, giving it a very authentic look.

Nadia loves her new tail, which has been tested in her local swimming pool, as well as, the ocean. She is hoping to use it for the swimming portion of her next triathlon.

So the next time you see a tailed figure frolicking in the ocean, don't panic - It's just Nadya Vessey, the real-life mermaid.

To read more about how Weta built the tail and see some of their other fun projects, check out their website at


Cite Article
  • eggz
    eggzTuesday, March 23, 2021 at 6:31 am
    intresting lol i have a mermaid tail that i can swim in its awsome and i can hold my breath underwater for 2 minutes and 50 seconds i should be a professonal mermaid somedday when i get older
    • bookqueenpaige
      bookqueenpaigeWednesday, February 24, 2021 at 11:47 am
      This is surprisingly intresting
      • dinobasketball7
        dinobasketball7Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 8:35 am
        • kittylover111
          kittylover111Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 6:05 am
          Really nice story! Follow your dream, girl!
          • followmeplz
            followmeplzTuesday, February 23, 2021 at 10:09 am
            wait what that's why I'm scared of the ocean
            • kkdelaya
              kkdelayaMonday, March 8, 2021 at 6:43 pm
            • wolfieland
              wolfielandTuesday, February 23, 2021 at 9:47 am
              a little sad at the beggining but this is pretty cool!
              • tianavas
                tianavasMonday, April 27, 2020 at 11:43 pm
                I wanted to be a mermaid for once but my mum and dad said that mermaid was only a is always fun to be a mermaid!
                • char2009
                  char2009Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at 10:34 am
                  i wish if their is real mermaids i could meet one and be one but also be able to be a person at the same time
                  • zoietiger
                    zoietigerThursday, December 3, 2020 at 8:37 am
                    keep dreaming once i think i saw a mermaid you can believe anything you want and maybe one day we can both go look for mermaids to gather!
                    • 54777
                      54777Friday, February 28, 2020 at 9:01 am
                      i wish i could be a mermaid
                    • bunny9Tuesday, August 20, 2019 at 1:31 pm
                      cooooooooooooooooool i love mermaids
                      • #BUNNIESRULETuesday, August 20, 2019 at 12:56 pm
                        wow!!!!!!!!I wish I was a mermaid!!!!!!!! I just got a sleeping mermaid tail and I love it so much!!! Mermaids > Unicorns