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"The oldest recorded merpeople were known as sirens (Greece) and it is in warmer waters that we find the beautiful mermaids more frequently depicted in Muggle literature and painting. The Selkies of Scotland and the Merrows of Ireland are less beautiful, but they share that love of music which is common to all merpeople."
Newton Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them[src]

Merpeople were sentient magical beasts that live underwater. They are found all over the world. Their customs and habits were mysterious, and, like the centaurs, were offered the being status but refused in favour of beast, as they did not want to be placed in a status with Hags and Vampires. Merpeople could breathe above the water for a time, but it was unclear if they can ever truly leave their habitat.[1]


Physical appearance

"Here and there at the dark windows, Harry saw faces...faces that bore no resemblance at all to the painting of the mermaid in the prefects’ bathroom... The merpeople had greyish skin and long, wild, dark green hair. Their eyes were yellow, as were their broken teeth, and they wore thick ropes of pebbles around their necks."
— Harry Potter compares the selkies of Black Lake to a their warmer watered cousins[src]

Selkie Mermaid in Hogwarts Lake

Merpeople were creatures resembling half-human, half-fish hybrids (though they are not, in actuality, half-breeds). Like humans, Merpeople came in a variety of appearances,[1] For instance, the majority of the Black Lake Merpeople colony had green hair, yellow eyes, and grey skin. They also had mainly silver tails. It is very unlikely a human, or even other types of merpeople, would resemble that.[2]

Merpeople also seem to be taller than humans, with seven feet appearing to not be an unusual height, at least for a selkie.[2] Harry encountered one in the lake near Hogwarts who was seven feet tall with a long green beard and a choker of shark fangs, carrying a spear.

Merpeople were divided up into various sub-species or races, depending on where they live. The earliest merpeople lived in Greece, and were known as sirens. In modern times, merpeople living in warmer waters take on a more beautiful appearance, while those in colder waters, such as the selkies of Scotland and the Merrows of Ireland, are less attractive.[1]

Society and culture

Merpeople in Hogwarts lake

Merpeople are a sapient species, and would qualify for full being status if they did not, as a race, reject the classification. Although their exact level of intelligence as compared to humans is unknown, they possess many traits beyond those of mere animals, as they have a developed language, Mermish, and have even created music (which they are known, as a whole, to be fond of).[1]

Evidence that the Merpeople have a thriving culture is that they live in highly organised communities, some containing elaborate dwellings made of stone, and have been known to domesticate creatures such as the Grindylow, Hippocampus, and Lobalug (the latter being used as makeshift weaponry).[1] Other signs of their intelligence include jewellery and weapon making, production of art (both paintings and statues), and an ability to understand basic human communication via gestures.[2]


The merpeople dated back to ancient Greece, where they were first known as sirens. By the modern era, however, merpeople had spread worldwide.[1]

The merpeople colony who lived in the Black Lake

The history of merpeople's relations with wizardkind, or at least the wizarding British government, were somewhat rocky. Chief Elfrida Clagg refused to accept merpeople as beings under her definition of the term as those who could "speak the human tongue". She thought Mermish to be inadequate as it could not be understood above water. Her decision upset both the merpeople and their allies the centaurs.[1]

Though they were allowed being status under Minister Grogan Stump's revised 1811 definition of the term, they would eventually request to be classified as beasts once more, objecting to the fact that dark creatures such as Hags and Vampires also claimed that status.[1]

Despite being considered beasts at the time, a delegation of merpeople were persuaded to attend the 1692 summit of the International Confederation of Wizards, where they would help decide what to do on the matter of hiding the existence of various magical creatures from Muggle comprehension.[1]

At some point in the 1800s, Mirabella Plunkett, a witch, fell in love with a merman living in Loch Lomond. When her family disapproved of their marriage, she Transfigured herself into a haddock and vanished.[3]

During Dolores Umbridge's career in the Ministry, she suggested that Merpeople to be rounded up and tagged, as her irrational revulsion to anything that have a part-human appearance. However, the ludicrousness of such an act caused it to never be put into effect.[4]

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

A merperson threatening Harry Potter

A colony of merpeople lived in the Black Lake on the grounds of Hogwarts Castle.

They played a role in the Second Task of the 1994 Triwizard Tournament. They agreed to keep four people in an enchanted sleep in their village for an hour, and protect them until the champion sent to save them arrived. They watched the champions swim around, with spears clutched in their hands, and tried to stop Harry Potter when he tried to save more than one person.[2]

Wizarding relations

Oddly enough, Merpeople were not represented in the Fountain of Magical Brethren at the Ministry of Magic. This could not be simply because they have declined formal "being" status with the Ministry of Magic, because centaurs made a similar decision and were represented in the Fountain.

Merpeople's relationship with Wizardkind is said to be an unstable one.[5] This could stem from a number of reasons, perhaps because certain people in the wizarding society look down upon merpeople and see them as inferior. That is a common occurrence in regards to sentient creatures that are not classified as human.

Despite the rocky relationship that does exist Merpeople are shown to help humans sometimes, such as agreeing to be a part of the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament.[2] They are also capable of showing respect to wizards who have earned it, during the funeral of Albus Dumbledore merpeople were present from within the Black Lake.[6]

Behind the scenes

A Mermaid as a LEGO Harry Potter mini-figure

  • Stories of mermaids and, less commonly, mermen exist in the folklore of various cultures worldwide.
  • According to W.O.M.B.A.T., it is possible that freshwater merpeople are less warlike than salt-water merpeople.
  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, the merpeople actually attack, whereas in the film and book they only confronted Harry when he tried to take more than his own hostage, but even then they only threatened to attack.
  • In the handheld versions of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, there are merpeople living in the Forest of Dean lake.
  • In J. K. Rowling's original plan, the Merpeople were to first appear in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, with Harry and Ron first meeting them when the Ford Anglia crashed into the Great Lake instead of the Whomping Willow. However, as the writing process continued, Rowling found it more satisfying and "less distracting" for the Ford Anglia to crash into the Willow.
    • The same chapter confirms that J.K. Rowling already had in mind the idea that Merpeople's appearance varied with water temperatures. This is confirmed by the last lines of Ron who mentions that perhaps in the warmer waters there could have been the pretty mermaids of the books, probably referring to the sirens.
  • In some languages, the terms "mermaid" and "siren" are indistinguishable. For this reason, in some translations of the Harry Potter books, there is confusion between the mermaids ( the females of the merpeople ) and the sirens ( the most beautiful races of the merpeople ).


The Harry Potter Wiki has 70 images related to Merpeople.

Notes and references

Magical creatures by classification
X Flobberworm · Horklump
XX Augurey · Bowtruckle · Chizpurfle · Clabbert · Diricawl · Fairy · Ghoul · Gnome · Grindylow · Imp · Jobberknoll · Mooncalf · Porlock · Puffskein · Ramora · Winged horse
XXX Ashwinder · Billywig · Bundimun · Crup · Doxy · Dugbog · Fire crab · Fwooper · Glumbumble · Hippocampus · Hippogriff · Hodag · Jarvey · Knarl · Kneazle · Leprechaun · Lobalug · Mackled Malaclaw · Moke · Murtlap · Niffler · Nogtail · Pixie · Plimpy · Pogrebin · Red Cap · Salamander · Sea serpent · Shrake · Streeler · Winged horse
XXXX Centaur · Demiguise · Erkling · Erumpent · Golden Snidget · Graphorn · Griffin · Hidebehind · Kappa · Kelpie · Merpeople · Occamy · Phoenix · Re'em · Runespoor · Snallygaster · Sphinx · Tebo · Thestral · Thunderbird · Troll · Unicorn · Winged horse · Yeti
XXXXX Acromantula · Basilisk · Chimaera · Dragon · Horned Serpent · Lethifold · Manticore · Nundu · Quintaped · Wampus cat · Werewolf