The Great Naiad Discovery of 1909 •Part 2 • Mermay 2019

May 8, 1909

Today we visited a site where paleontologists are excavating mermaid bones left behind by the ancient lake. Despite the mosquitos, I enjoyed watching them work. The things they’ve learned from the ancient bones give insight into how their descendants might behave.

This evening we all had dinner together.  Dr. Densley entertained us all with stories about searching for mermaids in South America. 

Dr. Flake is an unpleasant company. He’s a tall, slender man who slumps and perpetually sniffs “because of the desert air.” 

Everyone else was lovely to spend time with. The Tippets are a jovial couple who make each of us (even Dr. Flake) feel we have something to contribute.

After dinner, Dr. Densley asked me again if I’d join him in a limited partnership. “I know you’re worried about your brother, but it would only be temporary.” He said,  “We can see how we work together this month and go from there.”

I’m not sure what Martin would think, but Dr. Densley would be an entertaining and valuable partner. I’ve decided to accept his offer.

May 10, 1909

We spent yesterday packing up camp and traveling back to the city. It’s about 40 miles and as you can imagine the roads to and from the desert aren’t very road-like. It was lovely to be back in the hotel and have a bath and a good meal. 

Today Dr. Densley and I visited the Jordan River to set catch-and-release traps.

Dr. Densley said when he and Dr. Brown were searching for the naiad in Utah Lake, they almost caught one. It was larger than they thought, and they hadn’t brought with them the right traps. They also had reason to suspect another, smaller, descendant of the naiad lives in the Jordan River but they were too impatient to start there. He suggested we try our luck there first. 

I thought it sounded like a good idea, especially since Dr. Flake mentioned he planned to travel to Utah Lake today. I imagined spending all those hours of travel time with him and it made me want to… do something else.

For the rest of the day, I reviewed Dr. Densley’s notes. He and Dr. Brown were very thorough. I’ve jotted down their most helpful observations here for easy reference.

May 11, 1909

This morning, we checked the traps but had no luck. 

When we arrived back at the hotel, Mr. and Mrs. Tippets invited us on a sightseeing trip of the city. We took a trolly car and visited the well-known fountains, creeks, and wells where naiads live. There were some beautiful specimens. 

The Tippets are well informed on all things naiad. They enjoyed telling us all they knew about them all the while giggling and making fun of each other and us.  

Mrs. would elbow her husband and say, “You know Mr. Tippets, and I met on an expedition like this. What do you think about that, eh?” 

I have to admit to feeling quite uncomfortable with their implications. A few glances at Dr. Densley proved he felt the same. Although, he winked at me once. Overall it was a pleasant day.

May 12, 1909

Dr. Flake returned today with nothing to report. Certainly, he had a great deal to say, but none of it was worth listening to. We did listen though, over lunch, for about an hour.  

He interspersed wild statements about the Bonneville Naiad with barely disguised insults about my father. Apparently, they didn’t get along. 

Finally Dr. D— excused us, and we escaped to check our traps again. 

“You should stand up for yourself.”Dr. D— said as we left, “Your father was a good scientist. You don’t have to take his insults.”

I didn’t have a response. Sometimes it’s easier to let people do and think what they want. I don’t enjoy confrontation.

When looking at Dr. D—’s research I noticed a few possibly incorrect assumptions about where the naiads would be easiest to spot. I pointed out to Dr. D— that we may have better luck in the swifter sections of the river. 

“In a lake in Virginia, scientists discovered a species of naiad that’s almost impossible to catch. When it is “home” hiding in slow water it’s on its guard. In fast water, it becomes like a cat, and catching swift-moving objects like fish and debris becomes a game for the mermaid. Maybe, the Jordan potamoi and the Bonneville Naiad are the same way?” 

He saw my point almost at once. Martin would have taken at least a week to convince, and another two days to make any changes. Dr. D— was very different. He grew excited at my observations and we immediately took our traps to a different section of the river.  

May 13, 1909

It worked! We’ve caught a mermaid. So far she has all the earmarks of being a descendant of the Bonneville Naiad. We have a few more observations to make then we hope to go public with our findings.

Science Journal N.S. Vol XXIX no. 750
Scientific Notes and News
May 16, 1909

New Mermaid Species Discovered in Utah’s Jordan River

Salt Lake City. 

Beastologists Dr. Mable Price and Levi Densley have discovered the existence of a naiad species in Utah’s Jordan River. They’ve named it the Jordan Potamoi. 

Price partnered with Densley only a week ago. She replaced his late partner Dr. Brown. “Price’s insights were invaluable. I wouldn’t have made such rapid progress on my own.” Says Densley. 

Over twenty years ago, Beastologists found evidence that the  Bonneville naiad might not be extinct. Since then naiadologists have sought to prove its existence.

“The discovery of the Jordan Potamoi gets us one step closer to finding the river mermaid’s larger cousin,” Says Price. “We hope the patterns we’ve observed in the Jordan Potamoi aid in observing and documenting the existence of the larger beast.” 

Both scientists are optimistic they’ll soon find the Bonneville Naiad. Which, so far, has only been documented as a fossil. We’ll keep you informed as this work as it develops.

The Great Naiad Discovery is available as a book. Click here to learn more about it.

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