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A medical condition, caused doctors to amputate both of Nadya Vessey's legs when she was young. Now at the age of 50, she has realized her dream of becoming a real-life mermaid, thanks to Weta Workshop, an Oscar-winning special effects company, that brought us movies like Lord of the Rings, King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia.
A resident of Auckland, New Zealand, Vessey took up swimming after her first leg was amputated at the age of 7. Through high school, she swam competitively, even after her second leg was amputated at 16.
She never saw herself as a mermaid however, until a 4-year old asked why she was taking her (prosthetic) legs off. Not wanting to go through the process of explaining her amputation, she told him she was a mermaid.
That idea stuck with her and two years ago she approached Weta Workshop to ask if they could make her a prosthetic tail. To her surprise, they agreed.
The company had some experience with mermaid tails before, thanks to Peter Pan. However, those tails were directly applied on to the actors' bodies and only had to last until the film had been made.
Vessey's tail, however, had to be fully functional, pretty and last for a long time. Using 3-D modeling, the company hand-crafted a custom-made tail using a combination of neoprene and Lycra. The outer layer has been hand-painted with mermaid scales, giving it a very authentic look.
Nadia loves her new tail, which has been tested in her local swimming pool, as well as, the ocean. She is hoping to use it for the swimming portion of her next triathlon.
So the next time you see a tailed figure frolicking in the ocean, don't panic - It's just Nadya Vessey, the real-life mermaid.
To read more about how Weta built the tail and see some of their other fun projects, check out their website at www.wetanz.com/a-mermaid-s-tale/.
Sources: Dailymail.co.uk, wetaanz.com