How a photoshoot sparked Nixie the mermaid's magic-filled career

Magic: 'Mermaid Nixie' from South West Mermaids loves to educate children about ocean conservation. Pictures: Donna Fullwood and Impress Me Photography.
Magic: 'Mermaid Nixie' from South West Mermaids loves to educate children about ocean conservation. Pictures: Donna Fullwood and Impress Me Photography.

When asked for their occupation, not many people can truthfully say "mermaid".

But for Sherri Daniels, donning a slippery tail and putting on her shell-filled crown are all part of a day's work, entertaining and educating crowds as a real-life mermaid.

Life under the sea for Sherri first started eight years ago, when a friend did a call out for models for a mermaid photo shoot.

"I thought, 'this might be something interesting'," Sherri said.

"From there, it became an addiction."

Sherri's fascination with the magic of being a mermaid turned into a cosplaying hobby, which then turned into a business, and 'Nixie the mermaid' was born.

Starting off with occasional parties and events, Nixie now frequents children's parties, aquariums, festivals and everything in between.

Visitors to the Busselton Jetty may have also spotted Nixie swimming in the water, where she has visited during the summer months over the past five years.

Princess: Professional mermaid Sherri Daniels said a photoshoot sparked her love of cosplay. Picture: Impress Me Photography.

Princess: Professional mermaid Sherri Daniels said a photoshoot sparked her love of cosplay. Picture: Impress Me Photography.

"It puts smiles on people's faces," Sherri explained.

"I think it's great to keep the magic alive. I like to teach children to dream big, follow their hearts and anything is possible, all you have to do is believe."

"I get to learn more about the ocean too."

Explaining that mermaids follow the Leeuwin current, Nixie often goes up north in the winter months, to swim with whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, turtles and even octopi.

A passionate conservation advocate, Sherri said she often intertwines her work as a mermaid with teaching others about the ocean and how to protect it.

"It's a great tool to educate children," she said.

"Whether it's at an event or a birthday party, I like to slip in a little bit of conservation, as well as how we can collect three for the sea."

"Not only do they get to meet a mermaid, but they most probably will listen to a mermaid."

As well as talk about conservation, 'Nixie' will tell children about her underwater kingdom, where 'King Trident' sits on a throne at a castle deep in the ocean, and princess mermaids like Nixie are sent on 'quests' to talk to children.

"You get your odd non-believers, but soon I turn them around and get them to believe," she said.

Friends: 'Nixie the mermaid' said not all sharks are 'grumpy'. Picture: Ningaloo Discovery.

Friends: 'Nixie the mermaid' said not all sharks are 'grumpy'. Picture: Ningaloo Discovery.

"Most of the questions that I get asked from children are about sharks. They tell me sharks eat humans," she said.

"I tell them, 'not all sharks are grumpy'. There are some nice sharks in the sea too."

While life as a professional mermaid is full of fun, Sherri said it comes with it's own challenges.

While she makes swimming in her colourful tails look effortless, they are heavy, expensive and often need repairing.

"It's a quite high maintenance," she said.

Not only that, but performing as a mermaid can double as an intense workout, all the while holding your breath.

"I'm putting up with different conditions in the swell, the visibility, the surge, the costume weighing you down, you're diving down to eight metres, doing bubble kisses, back flips and tricks to entertain the guests."

"We have marine life encounters with stingers, seals, schools of fish and anything else that wishes to swim past."

"After doing a couple of tours, the first thing I want to do is come home and hang my tail up and go and lay on my clamshell."

On top of her 'South West Mermaids' business, Sherri is also a qualified 'mermaid instructor', and teaches others how to safely swim in a mermaid tail.

Nixie the Mermaid. Picture: Janet Obrien.

Nixie the Mermaid. Picture: Janet Obrien.

"Children want to learn how to swim with a tail. I can teach them where to get the correct tails from, the safety aspects and basic moves. How to do a dolphin kick, duck dive, staying in a buddy system."

While many people are keen to tryout mermaid tails, Sherri warned that buying cheap tails off of ebay can be dangerous.

"You're best buying off someone who has been in the business for a long time, to be able to get something that is safe."

In the future, Sherri plans to open a 'mermaid course' for people older than 12 to get a certification for learning more in-depth techniques like equalisation, rescue from the ocean floor.

When the water is too cold to swim during the winter months, Sherri can also be found working on deck with with All Sea Charters Whale Watching, where she continues to follow her passion for learning about the ocean.

Nixie's next appearance will be at the ticketed Mermaid Cave shop opening, in Busselton on April 9.

To check out Mermaid Nixie's socials, visit: @southwest_mermaids on Instagram and Southwest Mermaids on Facebook.