Myths and legends of "fish tailed humans" have risen from early attempts of man to explain the mysteries of nature and life. The Sirens of Greek mythology speak of creatures half-woman and half-bird that lured sailors to their death at sea. From this mythology evolved the legend of mermaids. Mermaids are often thought of as had omen. People in different countries usually have various interpretations of mermaids. In the Philippines they are thought to be water spirits or the descendants of fallen angels.
Although they're only a creation of the imagination, there are several accounts of 'mermaids' found in the Nile in 1642 and in Borneo in 1771. The exact identity of these creatures is unknown. Another 'mermaid' which was displayed in the United States in 1882 proved to be a hoax: it was nothing but the upper torso of a monkey sewn to a tail of a salmon. In 1908, a dugong was exhibited in Johannesburg, South Africa, and was billed as the world's only genuine mermaid.
The mermaid myth can be attributed partly, if not wholly, to a mysterious and unique animal called the dugong. Early explorers and seafarers journeying through the south eastern seas might have seen these unusual, elusive animals, and told of their encounter with half-human/half-fish creatures. The playful imagination of weary mariners who had stayed too long at sea was a factor in the enhancement of these mermaid stories. It was even said that sailors used dugongs as surrogate females at sea, giving rise to a tale of sailors capturing and marrying mermaids. Such perception on the dugong is strikingly common in many different cultures.
Diego de Bobadilla in the 1700s said of the dugongs in the Philippines: "Some tried to assert that those fish were the sirens of the sea so celebrated among the poets; but they have nothing of [ the ]beauty in the face and of [thel voice that is attributed to sirens" (Blair and Robertson, 1950c).