ERIC DUCHARME | Florida's own Mertailor, Swimming with Mermaids and Making a Splash
by Herb Sosa
Eric Ducharme became enticed by the folklore of mermaids
as a very young boy, vigorously pursuing his interests
through the art of drawing, costuming, and underwater
performance. Eric’s first encounter with mermaids was at
the age of four when his grandparents, who then lived in
Hernando Beach, took him to the enchanting world of Weeki
Wachee Springs. Having previously seen pictures of the
mermaids, he could not wait to get to the park. He sat in the
theater enthralled as the curtains rose and a beautiful
mermaid swam across the theater windows, waving and
blowing kisses to the audience. Fittingly, the show at the
time was “The Little Mermaid”. After the show Eric was
insistent on having his picture taken with several of the
lovely mermaids. Year after year Eric spent many days
visiting the park, getting to know the park staff and most
affectionately, the mermaids.
WHAT IS YOUR FIRST MEMORY OF BEING IN THE
The first memory in the water... Hmmm.. I truly do not
remember the first time, but I enjoy all of the times that I go
swimming or surround myself with water or water related
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DONE A MERTAIL?
The Littie Mermaid of Course, but not the Disney version by
any means. Growing up in Florida, I was a "frequent flyer" at
Weeki Wachee Springs, an underwater mermaid themed
amusement park. It is completely natural and not plastic or
fiberglass, it displays Florida's natural beauty along with the
mermaids. When I was a young boy, I loved the water and
mermaids. My grandparents are completely responsible for
my "love for mermaids". They brought me to Weeki Wachee
to see the mermaid show and from that first time I was
hooked! I knew that I wanted to be a "merman", but later on
in life discovered that I wanted to be the "maker of
WHAT IS THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD THING ABOUT
BEING IN THE WATER SO MUCH, & ABOUT BEING "ERIC"?
Truthfully, people do not get to see the magic or the beauty
that I do while swimming in the clear springs. It is an entirely
different world. It is tranquil and peaceful. Not to forget beautiful. Being
underwater is almost like a meditative state for me. It completely relaxes
and takes over my body. I am in the moment and not off it some other
aspect in life, like worrying about what is going to happen next.
HOW HAS RECENT MEDIA ATTENTION AFFECTED YOUR LIFE,
PERSONALLY & PROFESSIONALLY. HAVE YOU LEARNED ANYTHING
My life has been opened up to the world. This does make me happy. I am
able to share my passions and likes with the world. I am finding there are
many more people to be accepting of the concept than I originally thought
there would be. It is truly wonderful!
ARE YOU INVOLVED, AND WHAT IS YOUR PARTNERS REACTION TO
YOUR PASSION WITH MERMAIDS & THE ART?
I have a boyfriend, Matthew, of two years. He is extremely supportive and
assists me when I need help! He has become quite the artist! Mermaids
are my life, he is just surrounded by it all!
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FAMILY & LOVED ONES. ARE THEY
SUPPORTIVE? HOW ARE THEY INVOLVED?
Oh my yes, my family is supportive the most of them all. I do not know what
I would do without them! My mother actually does my accounting and sews
When Eric was nine he attended his first “Under the Spring” camp at Weeki Wachee and finally got the opportunity to experience first hand
what it was like to swim in the springs alongside the Weeki Wachee Mermaids as a camp student. It was at this time that he met Barbara
Wynns, a former mermaid at Weeki Wachee who was, and is still, very actively involved in the park. They shared storied of their passions
about merfolk and became friends Barbara too Eric under her flipper and showed him some of the ropes, teaching him how to swim as a
merman By the age of twelve, after spending many years of wonderful Weeki Wachee experiences Eric decided to start his own business,
calling himself “The Mertailor” so he could share his enthusiasm and creativity about these mystical underwater creatures known as
merfolk. Today, Eric creates mermaid tails from various materials such as silicone, urethanes, and latex rubbers to produce a realistic
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL A YOUNG LGBT KID WANTING TO FOLLOW
HIS/HER DREAM... AND MAYBE PUT ON A TAIL?
Never be afraid to be yourself! Who cares what others have to say? Look
at what they are doing and saying. They might be so judgement and
negative, but that is not good! Hiding behind a wall is only going to hurt
you in the long run. You have to love yourself and love life. It is extremely
short and needs to be lived in an extremely positive way.
WHERE DO YOU HOPE TO BE PERSONALLY & PROFESSIONALLY IN
THE NEXT 10 YEARS?
Ha! Well! I just want my company to grow and continue to open the world
of mermaids, mermen, and tail swimming for years to come. I love what I
do and I only want to share it with the world!
WHERE IS THE MERTAILOR BRAND GOING? WHATS NEXT?
I most definitely will continue to create new realistic looking designs.
I have a fashion line in the works along with a few jewelry pieces. You just
never know what you are going to see next!
ARE MERMAIDS REAL? WHAT DO THEY REPRESENT TO YOU?
Why not? There are many different theories on evolution and how humans
involved. There's a reason why I am so attracted to the water.
PHOTOS: Andrew Delozeir, Chris Crumley & Ashlynn
Copyright 2013 © AMBIENTE MAGAZINE.
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|Gracias|Thank You Celebrating 6 Years of
For his sixth birthday, Eric’s father
arranged to have his birthday part at
Weeki Wachee Spring’s water park,
Buccaneer Bay. Little did he know the
special surprise his father had in store
for him later on in that day.
As he sat on the island, finishing cake
and opening presents, he saw two
beautiful mermaids swimming up to the
dock. One of the lifeguards brought
two green tailed mermaids over to the
bench where he was sitting. Their
names were Tonya and Sativa. They
sat and talked with him for a while,
wished him a happy birthday, and gave
him a birthday kiss before saying
goodbye and returning to the water.
After that birthday, Eric’s interest in
mermaids grew by leaps and bounds.
He began drawing pictures and
portraits of his favorite mermaids. He
also became increasingly interested in
the tails that they wore. Eric started
making tails out of anything he could
find, including plastic garbage bags put
together with glue sticks. His first fabric
tails were hand sewn with a needle and
thread. Wanting to improve and perfect
his mermaid tails, Eric engaged the
help of his grandmother to help teach
him how to sew on the sewing machine.