Mertailor's Mermaid Aquarium Encounter in Lecanto, Florida

Eric Ducharme has loved mermaids since he was five years old. “One day,” he told a local news station. “I said I was going to open up my own mermaid show. His dream came true in 2021 with the opening of Mertailor’s Mermaid Aquarium Encounter in Lecanto, Florida, a small town in the heart of Citrus County. But Ducharme didn’t just dive into the world of mermaid shows, he was already deep into the mermaid life long before then. For over 20 years, Ducharme has been creating mermaid tail masterpieces for customers from around the world who want to experience life under the sea. His tails brought him into the spotlight, with customers like Lady Gaga sporting his creations. His expert tail craftsmanship even earned him a spot in a Netflix documentaryLaunching an aquarium encounter was a logical next step.

Inspired by Weeki Wachee Springs, a Florida attraction featuring swimmers in elaborate costumes performing underwater shows—Ducharme planned to make a similar mermaid encounter in his corner of the state. As his mer-tailor operations grew, it seemed like a perfect time to combine his dreams of a retail shop and mermaid show into one destination. The tailor shop sits in the back of the space, while the front is home to the shop’s centerpiece: a 15,000-gallon aquarium tank. The tank is where you can find mermaid shows three times a day. Decked out in Ducharme’s signature tails, the mermaids glide through the water, spinning and twirling in an underwater ballet. 

Ducharme isn’t just concerned with the ocean’s mythical creatures, he also cares deeply about the real animals that live in the water. In addition to the performance tank, several other tanks give visitors a chance to get up close and personal with a host of aquatic animals.  One tank mimics Florida river conditions and is filled with local plants and animals, and the other is a model estuary cove that features an actual mangrove tree. There are also two touch tanks where, after a thorough handwashing, you can get hands-on experience with sea urchins, anemones, and stingrays.

And for those who want to do more than watch the mermaids, Mertailor’s Mermaid Aquarium Encounter offers a chance to slip into one of Ducharme’s custom tails and have an underwater adventure in the performance tank. 

Ducharme plans to expand the space and add more exhibits and more work on conservation and environmental projects to protect the waterways he loves. But it’s the mermaids that sparked the idea, and the mermaids that add whimsy to the aquarium. As one mermaid performer put it, when talking about the joy she sees in the audience’s eyes, “it helps you believe there’s magic still in the world.”

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