Pregnant Mermaid Performer Swims with Sharks & Rays to Promote Barrier Reef Conservation

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Sirenalia, an Austin, Texas based mermaid production company, traveled to the Great Barrier Reef of Belize, where Maria Russo, an eight-months-pregnant mermaid performer, swam with schools of sharks and manta rays to raise awareness for reef conservation. The trip was documented by Flashpool Productions, an underwater photography company.

It’s not every day that you get to see a pregnant mermaid swim through a cloud of sharks!

Sirenalia, an Austin, Texas­, based mermaid production company, traveled to Belize to swim through Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley, in the Great Barrier Reef. Maria Russo, who owns Sirenalia, made the swim while eight months pregnant. The trip was documented by Flashpool Productions’ underwater photographer, Sarah Teveldal. All photos are being donated to be used as promotional materials by Barrier Reef conservation agencies.

The Belizian Great Barrier Reef is the second largest coral reef system in the world, and is one of the planet’s most diverse ecosystems. Unfortunately, over 48% of the reef has been damaged since 1998. “I love this reef so much, and I want to be able to share it with my daughter,” said Russo. “It’s heartbreaking to me to think of the damage done to it. I genuinely hope she gets to experience it when she's grown.”

Maria’s company, Sirenalia, specializes in the production of silicone mermaid tails & accessories, and customized mermaid performances. It has several regular mermaid performers, two of whom came on the trip to swim alongside her. “I’m really proud of my girls- swimming in a mermaid tail is a learned skill, and I felt really good knowing they were with me.”

Sarah Teveldal, of Flashpool Productions, joined Maria and documented the entire trip, including dives over twenty feet deep and through schools of sharks and manta rays. Her photographs are being donated to Barrier Reef conservation agencies, most notably Green Reef, a Belize-based nonprofit, for use in promotional materials. “It was so exciting to get to be a part of this project,” said Teveldal. “It’s not every day that you get to see a pregnant mermaid swimming through a cloud of sharks!”

Maria gave birth to her daughter, Felix Darling, on March 6th. “I can’t wait to make her a tail of her own,” said Maria.

For more information about Sirenalia or Flashpool Productions, or for high resolution pictures or to schedule interviews, please contact Jason Darling at press(at) or call 415.690.5198. Photos from the shoot can be seen here:

About Sirenalia: Sirenalia ( is an Austin, Texas based mermaid company, specializing in full silicone mermaid tails, mermaid accessories, and mermaid performances. Started in 2013 by Maria Russo and Jason Darling, Sirenalia is devoted to both raising environmental awareness and making mermaids’ dreams come true!

About Flashpool Productions: ( Based in Austin, Texas, Flashpool Productions specializes in underwater portraiture and video and aims to bring the aquatic community into focus through cutting-edge creative imagery using state-of-the-art equipment and artistic vision.


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