The Penny Hoarder
Here’s What Happens When You Apply to Be a Mermaid for the State of Florida
Brittany Manley calls herself a modern-day pirate.
About once a week, she navigates Florida’s Weeki Wachee River. Heading downriver with her boyfriend in tow, the duo picks up trash, but also treasures: waterlogged iPhones, gold rings, a $100 pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses and “really interesting” fishing lures.
On Jan. 13, Manley returned to the source of the river at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. But rather than playing pirate, she was seeking to work as a real-life mermaid for the state of Florida.
Despite being a resident of Weeki Wachee — which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, boasted a population of 13 (humans, not mermaids) in 2016 — Manley has never really considered becoming a mermaid before now. In fact, she almost didn’t show up to Saturday’s first round of tryouts.
She and about 60 other mermaid hopefuls vied for the chance to become some of Florida’s newest state employees. They were tasked with a 300-yard timed swim and a 10-minute water-treading exercise.
Joining them at one point, a lazy manatee.
“My parents are never going to let me live this down now,” Manley said after the audition, laughing. “I’m sitting there debating hard about not doing this. I’ve just never seen myself as a strong enough swimmer.”
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