Kariel / No, this is not a cartoon character about to burst into song with a crab from Trinidad and a pre-pubescent tropical fish. This is Kariel, a blond Oregonian transplant who’s got a Model Mayhem profile and teaches aquarobics classes at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa at Ko Olina–all in her mermaid tail.
The Weekly stayed dry and spoke with Kariel on the phone about her life aquatic.
Is the Kariel moniker a spin-off of Ariel from The Little Mermaid?
Yes, My mom named me Kariel because I have been a mermaid my entire life.
You made your tail two years ago. What is it made out of?
I have made many tails in my life. I handcraft my tails using recycled/used wet suits, eco-friendly paints and many more things made by my imagination. On every swim there is usually maintenance and upkeep required. Because I handcraft them myself, I am able to repair them as well. I guess you can call me a green mermaid. I have a room in my house dedicated to storing my tails and my equipment. I always wash my tails with fresh water after every use. I finished the pink tail after 350 hours and the blue after 400. I am now working on my third water tail. I hope to finish it by December.
What was the most difficult adjustment from being a human swimmer to a mermaid swimmer?
Although I have always loved the water, I wasn’t always a good swimmer. Although I might lack in areas where others excel, I have my own unique talents. Everyone has something that makes them special and I want to get that message out to the world. My dream is that self-esteem is lifted in children and they recognize how they can affect others as well. If people can get over the fear of what others think, imagine what our world would create and accomplish.
What has been your most challenging or favorite mermaid adventure?
I just did a night swim with the manta rays and eagle rays on the Big Island.
What land tricks can you do?
I sing and I also illustrate with pastels.
You teach aquarobics classes as well, correct?
Yes. I teach the dolphin kick. This is great exercise for your core. Woman will love this class because it will help you have a tight butt. Plus, it is so much fun. What other exercise class can you go to where a mermaid teaches and swims with you?
Do you have other mermaid friends on the island?
I have met some wonderful friends that I swim with on a regular basis. We explore the ocean and its creatures. Most of all we push each other to be better free divers and help one another excel in our passions.
What’s the current status of your children’s book?
Each illustration takes me about 100 hours. I have four more to complete the book. The story is from my own life and heart. It gives children the knowledge to use their talents to accomplish their dreams by believing in themselves. I want this book’s profits to go to a nonprofit to help rare cancer research, in honor of my grandmother who died of leiomyosarcoma cancer.
Tell me more about your upcoming mermaid-inspired swimsuit line.
They are fabulous! They are going to be form fitting as well as hand-embellished with many of my mermaid concepts and hand paintings.
Anything else you’d like to say about being a mermaid?
Being a mermaid is doing something out of the box. I would love to inspire others to think outside their box and go for their wildest dreams.