When you hear the phrase “mermaid rescue”, where does your mind go? You’re most likely thinking about the scene from The Little Mermaid, where Ariel saves Eric from drowning. Wherever your mind takes you, the year is 2022, mermaids do exist and you can become one, too. PADI has developed a mermaid program, and we’re going to give you the scoop about how well-trained these mono-fined, sea lovers are, and what they were capable on one recent occasion. 

mermaid rescue

Mermaid Rescue

One fateful day in November 2022, an Advanced PADI Mermaid class convinced the masses of divers at Casino Point, California to believe in fairytales. Mermaids are real. And, if you’re lucky, a PADI Mermaid may save your life.

Three ladies involved in the PADI Mermaid Program got to show the world what they’ve been training for, as they swam into action to save a scuba diver’s life.

Elle Jimenez, Elaina Thomas, and Great Chin Burger, who are all certified PADI professionals, were participating in a PADI Advanced Mermaid course, when their simulated rescue scenario, turned into a real-life situation – fast. 

  • Elle Jimenez is a viral TikTok mermaid and one of PADI’s first Mermaid Instructors. She was teaching PADI’s Advanced Mermaid Course on Catalina Island at the time of the rescue.
  • Elaina Thomas is a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor, trained EMT, and runs the highly successful Catalina Island Mermaids business. 
  • Great Chin Burger is a PADI Freediving Instructor, Elle’s assistant Mermaid for her Mermaid Courses, and an incredible stuntwoman who made her film debut recently in the 2022 Marvel movie Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

The Rescue

On the day of the rescue, these ladies heard two scuba divers ascend nearby, with one screaming desperately for help. They noticed one of the divers battling to stay at the surface while trying to keep his unresponsive buddy, Pablo Avila, afloat. Without hesitation, mermaids Elaina, Elle, and Chin all swam into action. Instinctively these ladies started following the PADI rescue protocol, which becomes deeply ingrained over time from PADI training. 

Firstly, they approached the victims, then ditched their weights and gear to establish positive buoyancy. Their next step was getting the divers to shore and out of danger. Elaina, who is also a trained volunteer EMT, started providing life-saving rescue breaths at the surface, which is imperative in this type of diving-related incident. 

Next, they had the impressive feat of bringing Pablo, who weighed roughly 250 pounds with his gear, to shore to begin CPR while awaiting emergency services. 

Once on land, the emergency responders took over, crediting the mermaids’ quick action, selfless skills, and training for Pablo’s revival. They were able to get him breathing and a pulse back as they evacuated him to a nearby hyperbaric chamber, allowing him to recover.

Elaina, Elle, and Chin not only positively represented the diverse community of Mermaids with grace under pressure, but they also made a real difference for a diver who desperately needed some magic in his life. And they did this all while wearing mermaid tails. 

How to Become a Mermaid

Before these ladies brought “mermaiding” to national news, you may have been one of the many want-to-be mermaids who wasn’t sure if your childhood dreams would ever come true. Whether you want to experience wearing a mermaid tail or you want to become a Mermaid Instructor just like Elle Jimenez, PADI has the courses available for you.  

There are four different student-level courses that you will need to master before advancing into the three different professional mermaid levels. Each course offers different skills, where you’ll be practicing getting your tail wet. Once you’ve completed the requirements for these courses, you then have the prerequisites to advance into the professional life of mermaiding. 

These recreational levels of mermaiding teach swimming skills, first-aid training and physical health, while the professional levels build on these skills, allowing you to teach them to others. To give you the opportunity to learn more about each level of training, we’ve compiled a list of links for you to browse.

Recreational Levels 

Professional Levels

Though be warned, many believe the courses are just bubble kisses, glitter makeup, and dolphin kicks, when in reality performing is a very small component of the courses. Becoming a PADI Mermaid is about learning the perfect balance of athleticism, confidence, and composure—with the courses teaching you to gracefully master a variety of water skills and, most importantly, safety training.

padi mermaid course

Opportunities for Mermaids

Being a mermaid is cool enough on its own, but it’s truly a lifestyle for many. Before making the plunge into professional mermaiding, you’ll want to know the opportunities available.

A major part of wearing the bright mermaid tail is to draw the attention of others. After all, as much as we’d love to be a real mermaid, it is just a costume. But this costume opens up an array of jobs.

You’ll need to be a people person, who always wants to make others smile. As well, you’ll need to be an advocate for the ocean. But, with these skills, you can be a mermaid show performer, entertainer, PADI Mermaid Instructor, or ocean conservationist. 

Visit the list of possible mermaid careers.

The PADI professionals involved in this mermaid rescue truly represent what it’s like to be a part of PADI. Training is such a huge part of the diving industry and whether you want to be a freediver, scuba diver, or mermaid, no other organization trains you with standards like PADI.

Pablo Avila, the diver who was rescued had this to say to the lady mermaids:

“You all were amazing. Real-life mermaids to the rescue. You made me believe in fairytales again. Thanks again for all you did”.

Not only do we agree with Pablo, but we also commend all three ladies for their heroic actions. 

If you’re interested in more information on the PADI mermaid program, click on the button below.

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