Description: This story explains how humans are destroying the aquatic ecosystem.
There lived a Tiny Mermaid in a periwinkle shell. She was born when an oyster hiccupped, and the little air bubble spun like the bubbles in a bottle of cola to the surface. When it popped at the top, out tumbled the Tiny Mermaid, wet, silvery and glistening, stuck to a moonbeam.
Tiny Mermaid was so small as to be transparent, like glass, often mistaken for a gurgle, a droplet, a lather, or a little bead of foam. Tiny Mermaid’s friends were the sea sparkle planktons that turned iridescent blue and often indulged in luminous riding on huge sea waves. Tiny Mermaid flashed in and out of the minuscule currents flashing violet-black-sea-green-midnight blue.
Sometimes, Tiny Mermaid spun up to the surface of water and leapt out for a tiny second. One would then think that she was a tadpole because one can see a tiny splash in the darkness and then after a faint whirring of the water, there would be nothing at all.
One day, the Tiny Mermaid was dancing with her friends and the music of her delight propelled her to whisk in every tighter circle through the waves. She rose up and up and oh! Here she was, in the cool black air, flying through it as though she wore wings, her green hair trailing behind her like the silky fins of a Siamese Fighting fish.
As soon as she rose up, a large brown cod snapped, and swallowed her whole.
He had mistakenly perceived her as a little fish and decided to have her as a snack. Inside the body of the cod, it was cold and slippery and Tiny Mermaid could not see. She could hear his dreadful heartbeat all around her, and she did not know which way to go to escape.
She slid down his throat and into his belly, where she saw the most curious things. Everywhere in that small, slushy stomach sea, were plastic titbits. Bottle tops and chip wrappers. The silky knots of a forgotten fishing line. Pellets of micro beads, floppy balloon knots and the torn roses of plastic bags.
Tiny Mermaid swam through the miasma, pushing her arms through the filthy gloom, but there was no end to the plastic. Inside that murky belly, she curled up in a biscuit bag and fell asleep. Tiny Mermaid did not know it, but as she slept, the cod was hurtling rapidly through the darkness, his fishy body driven to find more delicious morsels, riding with swells until he was far, far away from Tiny Mermaid’s home, deep into the Pacific Ocean, where land is only a memory.
In the morning, Tiny Mermaid awoke with a lurch and found she was still in the soupy reek of the cod’s slurpy tummy. The plastics had welled up against her while she dreamed. In fright, she pushed them away from her, and something inside the cod felt strange.
It was a tickle that turned into a sneeze, and suddenly the Cod coughed. In a turbulent wave, out sloshed Tiny Mermaid, riding a crest of litter.
It spiralled into the deep blue sea, and Tiny Mermaid found herself bobbing alone in a bright ocean, like a speckle to sunshine on a ripple. Tiny Mermaid felt tired from her journey in the fish, and had never before seen the sun so bright and hot on her hair. She saw what looked like a nice safe reef, and glided towards it. In the reef, she found a little periwinkle shell to climb inside, and slept until she felt better.
But when Tiny Mermaid got to the reef, it was not a reef at all! It was an island of plastic. Pulsing and groaning like a living thing, it was the most terrible monster Tiny Mermaid had ever seen.
Tiny Mermaid did not at all feel that a terrible monster like this should be in the ocean. As she grew closer, she saw that several fishes were trapped inside, and turtles, and birds stuck by the foot. When she got very close, she saw the giant eye of the cod who had swallowed her, caught in the string to boat rubbish. He looked terribly sad.
Tiny Mermaid was so tiny that she could not do much. But she could do something. “Help!” she cried.
And although her voice was so small as to be like the tinkling of a dripping tap, a thoughtful whale heard her heart, and stopped. He saw the cod, and nudging it with his nose, made it free. A passing ship saw that whale stop, and the people on the boat came to investigate.
They leaned over the boat and heaped handfuls of plastic into buckets, and released the trapped animals. The island of plastic stretched very far and wide to the horizon, but they cleaned as much as they could. Tiny Mermaid may have been small, and her voice even smaller, but that small voice freed many animals that day. And she used it many times again, to help the boats find the trapped animals, and to free them from that dreadful monstrous island.
Tiny Mermaid has now found a new periwinkle shell, and her sea sparkle friends have found her, deep within the sea. She has introduced them to the cod, who is now her good friend too. Every evening when she’s not dancing with the plankton, she slips between his gills, where they ride the waves in the silvery cool, clean, wild waters of the sea.
About the illustrator –
Aadhya Ganesh is a student that is passionate about taking action to protect the environment, using art and music as a medium to connect people to nature. She loves to play and teach piano and she aspires to become a veterinarian.