Mermaids make a splash for lakes

A mystical sea creature is shining her lantern on a potentially devastating issue in the Okanagan.

Mermaids, the guardians of water, are bringing attention to some of the threats to our lakes, including invasive mussels. And they will be making a splash at the Vernon Boat Show this weekend. That’s right, there will be a mermaid at the Vernon Yacht Club for the weekend-long event, which goes Saturday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Everyone loves them, and they attract attention,” said Bonnie Donovan, a Kelowna photographer who will be at the show with her mermaid, Martha and business Bonne Belle Photography. “She is an ambassador between us and our environment and a reminder of how precious our waters are.”

Using the alluring mermaids, Donovan photographs and films them to bring attention to issues that affect our lakes. Called Project Mermaid Okanagan, beautiful photographic art highlights real-life concerns such as mussels.

The project consists mainly of a series of one-minute commercials and print ads featuring portraits of mermaids on Okanagan beaches to circulate on social media and beyond.

The portraits draw attention to issues such as the invasive mussels which threaten our lakes.

“It’s not just Okanagan Lake we’re worried about,” said Donovan, who has photographed mermaids at Kalamalka, Mabel, Wood and more.

“I love our lakes,” said Donovan, who sees how important they are in the Okanagan’s economy. “People don’t realize how important it is.”

Donovan is pleased to see that stricter rules are being made and boat checks are in place, but after seeing how fast the mussels can spread she is hoping to do her part to do more to raise awareness.

“People need to talk about it. It’s horrible. That’s it, once you get it,” she said of the mussels which clog drinking water, cover lake floors with their sharp shells and ruin ecosystems. “We’d lose a lot of our tourism.”

Along with watching over the lakes, mermaids play another special role in Donovan’s life.

“My daughter is a paraplegic but she swims and she swims like a mermaid,” said Donovan of her now 28-year-old daughter. “So I got the tail and I put it on her. I told her she’s a real mermaid because real mermaids can’t walk either.”

And like the Okanagan’s Ogopogo, Donovan hopes the mermaids will attract attention to the Okanagan.

“It’s just another fun thing to have because we’re so water-minded here.”

Mermaids are just one of many attractions that will be at this weekend’s boat show. For more information visit


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