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Mermaids Claim Workers At Florida Aquarium Viewed A Recording Of Them Changing & They Weren’t Informed

Photo: TikTok / ladyelora
Clearwater Aquarium mermaids

Two women working as mermaid performers at Florida's Clearwater Aquarium are speaking out after they were "accidentally" recorded without their consent while getting changed.

Videos, uploaded by one of the affected performers, Caroline Don who goes by @ladyelora on TikTok, garnered a lot of attention in the past few days, already received over 5 million views.

The event that she describes, however, tells a deeply upsetting story that ended up with the victims even being terminated for no apparent wrongdoing.

The mermaid performers say Clearwater Aquarium staff watched a video of them getting changed.

Don opens with context on the incident that occurred in December 2020 after the Clearwater Marine Aquarium hired the mermaid performers for a four-day event in their dolphin tanks.

To change and take breaks between performances, they were given access to a room directly above the dolphin tanks.

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Although it had a visible security camera, the woman asserts in her video that they were assured time and time again that it had been turned off for the entirety of their event.

However, at some point, this became no longer true, and — according to the chairperson of the aquarium board of directors, Paul Auslander — the camera “accidentally and unintentionally” recorded the women changing without them knowing.

According to the performer, Mike Hurst, the former VP of operations recorded several days of the mermaids changing.

Then, as supported by the aquarium’s own statements, Hurst showed the footage to Frank Dame, the former CEO, and attempted to show former aquarium director of engineering and operations, Chris Dalton, who supposedly refused.

The recording was kept quiet, both from the board of directors and the performers, for six months.

According to Don, they did not learn of the incident until the following June, six months after they were unknowingly recorded.

Dalton who had acted as a whistleblower after securing a new job out of state, reported the video to the board of directors and the women separately.

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The board of directors was reportedly unaware that the women had been informed and opted not to tell them.

According to Dalton, Hurst had threatened him “if I ever told anyone about Frank (Dame) and him watching the videos, then he would fire me.”

He stated that he did not know who to turn to in this situation, so he waited until he could leave what he described as a “toxic work environment” to tell.

It seemed clear to the performers that the aquarium had little interest in informing them of the situation.

Despite reportedly believing that the performers were unaware of the situation, the aquarium focused their efforts on launching an internal investigation that declared the incident to be purely accidental.

   

   

Meanwhile, when the performers came back for their summer show, they saw that the camera had been fully removed, but they were never told why.

The mermaids performed the full event, waiting to hear from the aquarium about what would be done about the recording.

Don states that “the board eventually realized that we knew of the recording incident but said nothing besides that an internal investigation was ongoing.”

At the end of their June event, they discussed their next winter event, which the aquarium eventually called off “because they stated that they needed to keep the funds in case of a lawsuit,” Don claims.

The women later met with Auslander , who had ordered the internal investigation, virtually.

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According to the performer, they were promised “the findings of their attorneys.” Continuing, she said, “we never saw these findings.”

The aquarium then reportedly tried to shut down the investigation, declaring the matter resolved and refusing to involve the police, stressing that everything was an accident.

The aquarium stopped working with the mermaids, despite promising otherwise.

In Don's video, it is clear that these results were disappointing, and she stresses that they only kept quiet because they had hoped the aquarium would work to make the situation better as they continued to work together after the perpetrators were gone.

She says, the aquarium “assured us that they stood by us, and that this would not effect our work with them.”

However, when the women saw through social media that their mermaid troop had been replaced as they continued to wait for their next performance as they had been promised, they felt lied to.

Seeing that those being investigated were supposedly able to resign with severance packages while they were merely cast aside, they saw it was time to speak out.

The mermaids are tentatively hopeful after the attention their posts garnered.

The performer posted a misty-eyed update a few days later, sharing her thanks for the internet's support through the whole ordeal.

   

   

In the video, she shares that the aquarium has reached out to the mermaids for a meeting regarding the situation, and she says, “we have a little bit of hope.”

Hopefully, this means that the overwhelming social media attention has pushed this situation one step closer to justice.

Clearwater Aquarium says they are working with the mermaid performers about the incident.

In a statement, the aquarium claimed that, after recently changing leadership, they believed the investigation had been completed and mistakenly thought measures had been put in place to protect the women.

"We are engaging in conversations with the original [mermaid] company and their team to plan an in-person meeting so we can hear their story, begin the healing process, and respect their voices," they explained.

"We are taking a deep look into this situation and giving it the attention it deserves. Our priority is to rebuild trust and become a model for a safe and supportive work environment for everyone.”

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Amanda Hartmann is a writer focused on celebrity, news and entertainment.

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