A reported sighting of a mermaid off the Isle of Wight is being investigated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
The sighting comes on the day a US scientific agency said there is no evidence that mermaids exist.
'No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found,' the National Ocean Service said in a statement.
But Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon said it was possible that the exceptionally wet conditions could have encouraged mermaids to make a comeback in the UK.
One Isle of Wight resident said she would like to see mermaids re-introduced back into the wild, 'like otters - and it would be good for the tourist season'.
Isle of Wight fisherman Dug Coles claims he once caught a mermaid in his nets.
'She were a beauty - and this big,' he said. 'But, if I'd kept her, I'd have exceeded my bloody EU quota, so I had to chuck her back in the sea.'