Professor turns herself into popular mermaid

Unexpected visitor at water park in Livingston Parish
Published: Jul. 9, 2014 at 10:49 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2014 at 12:40 AM CDT
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DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Something has been sighted in pools across the area. Something that has kids jumping in and out of the water. The PARDS aqua park in Denham Springs is the latest place the unexpected visitor caught everyone by surprise.

PARDS employees say it has never been so crowded on a Wednesday afternoon. Most who were at the park say they brought their children to play and cool off. But there was something else at the park that caught everyone's attention.

"Well, why is a mermaid here?" asked a little girl named Audrey Murtes.

Surrounded by kids in the middle of the pool, a turquoise tail could be seen gliding through the water.

"My name is Venessa, the Louisiana mermaid," she said.

The woman - or mermaid - has drawn quite a following and not just from the kids at the park. Her Facebook page has 800 fans. She says people have written her asking her to make appearances at children's birthday parties.

A few weeks ago, Venessa, says she ordered the custom tail from Florida. She took it out to local pools and learned how to swim with it. That's when people got interested. She says children were excited. The adults were confused.

"They ask am 'I a real mermaid? Do I have magical powers? Where do I live? What do I eat and who are my friends?'" said Venessa, who in her human form teaches visual communications as an LSU adjunct professor at the Manship School of Mass Communications.

She says she's always had a fascination with mermaids and one day hopes to write a children's book about the so-called mythical creatures.

She's also interested in possibly helping the state with tourism, especially since her story has gone international.

"I would love the opportunity to work with Louisiana tourism to promote our waterways and our coast. Also perhaps to work on coastal preservation."

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