SEATTLE — It's a question no more...mermaids are REAL and they are taking over the Pacific Northwest!

Here in the Northwest we are a land of legends, like Bigfoot or Jake the Alligator Man, but tonight's tall tale actually comes with a tail.

"I think it kind of chose me. Once I put on a tail for the first time a couple years ago, I didn't really have a choice," said Seattle Mermaid Essie.

She is part of a pod of about 80 Seattle Mermaids who sometimes even swim outdoors with Mermen!

"When you're in the water, it's quiet," said Seattle Mermaids Founder J. Von Stratton.

Stratton is a costume designer and mermaid on the side.

"I airbrushed this (pointing to a new tail) and made this the day before going on a lovely trip to Mexico because I wanted a new tail," said Stratton while having a good laugh.

Essie ordered her custom tail from a company named Sirenalia that is based out of Texas. She happened upon mermaiding when she was on vacation in the Philippines, where they apparently have a mermaid academy.

"It was just the most incredible experience, swimming in the ocean with tropical fish all around. You're in a mermaid tail and I fell in love instantly," said Essie.

Her family didn't want to burst her bubble, but she told them she was going to be a mermaid, and they couldn't help but to laugh. Now she makes two or three appearances a month and has traveled the world as Essie the mermaid. She says living this dream has made her more confident in her own fin, if you will.

Kids clamor to touch her hair and her tail. "The kids freak out, they love it!"

"It's like looking at Santa Claus for the first time as a kid and you're like, he's totally real."

Once she has their undivided attention, she gets to talk about her passion which is ocean conservation. She is also now a certified freediver which she started after mermaiding. She can also hold her breath for five and a half minutes.

Essie not only swims, but she is also an underwater photographer who is available for hire. You can book your underwater session with her by visiting her website.

They say you have to be a confident swimmer to mermaid in the water, but their group is open to all, even if you want to just luxuriate on land.

Evening celebrates the Northwest. Watch weeknights at 7:30 on KING 5 & streaming live on KING5.comContact: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email.