An upcoming mermaid show at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium has been cancelled.
A representative with CMA contacted 8 on Your Side on Friday night saying, “out of respect for the mermaid performers, there will not be a mermaid show at CMA this spring.”
The announcement comes following a meeting with performers who were recorded without their knowledge in December 2020 as they changed into their mermaid costumes. Those mermaid performers didn’t learn about what happened for months.
The aquarium hired a private law firm to conduct an independent investigation into what happened. The aquarium executive who possessed the recording was suspended and later resigned. The aquarium’s CEO since retired.
Ashley Mengel was one of the performers who was recorded. She felt like it was a slap in the face when she and others came forward demanding answers about what happened, only to learn that an upcoming mermaid show was contracted to another group.
“Cancelling is only right after we were violated and lied to,” Mengel said in a text message. “And then our images were used to advertise the event we were fired from for being victims.”
Caroline Don was another performer who had similar sentiments.
“It really feels like they want this to be quiet now, like the meeting (on Monday) and canceling the spring event is the end,” she said in an email on Friday night. “We’re still communicating with them and waiting on answers of some of our questions from that meeting.”
No one with CMA was available for an interview on Saturday morning, but the aquarium’s president, Dr. James Powell, said on Monday following the mermaid meeting, he is committed to doing the right thing.
“All of our staff at CMA and our senior staff, are committed to making necessary changes and adjustments,” Powell said. “And we’ve taken these women very, very seriously. And we’ve heard them. “
After announcing the cancellation of the upcoming mermaid show, a representative wrote, “CMA is pleased to offer the new Remembering Winter VR experience and Rescue Town children’s play zone this spring. We will also continue to work on sea turtle awareness and our life-saving manatee rescue efforts. “