Who Is Mermaid Echo?


When I have legs most people call me Claire VanValkenburg. I am a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Journalism and Mass Communication with a certificate in Digital Studies.

I started “mermaiding” as a form of exercise, I would swim with a monofin (a flipper for both feet) as an effective full-body workout. Soon enough I discovered the “mermaid community,” a group of people dedicated to protecting our water systems. I was inspired by their resourcefulness to use the extraordinary and captivating qualities of a mermaid as a means for activism. Also, I was impressed by the effectiveness, what child wouldn’t listen to a mystical creature asking them to use less plastic?

I’ve loved mermaids since I first learned to swim, and I truly believe the essence of a mermaid can inspire confidence in children (especially young women), be the voice for all forms of life under the surface, and prove that you should never stop chasing your dreams.


Is my child safe?

Yes. I am a Lifeguard and a YMCA camp counselor, which means I receive vigorous training each year for water safety education, boating safety education, child abuse and bullying prevention, SBS prevention, stress management education, and more. I have been working with the YMCA for 3 years am confident in both my childcare and water safety abilities.

  • Lifeguard certified
  • AED/First Aid certified
  • Boating safety certified
  • Waterfront safety certified
  • Child abuse and SBS prevention
  • Bullying and suicide prevention
  • Stress and anger management


Who helps Mermaid Echo?


You’re right, a girl can’t do it all alone. My trusty business partner and exceptional technology manager is Kevin Chukel. Most of the time he is behind the camera and the crazy-skilled video editing.

Kevin helps me out a lot, whether it be documenting an event, moving me when I’m in the tail, or ensuring the safety of guests and I. In the “mermaid community” people who help mermaids get around and do their job are often called “mer-tenders.” They do everything you can’t do in a tail!

Kevin is going to school for Web and Digital Media Development with a minor in Computer Information Systems, so he knows his stuff when it comes to videography and photography. He enjoys being my “mertender” because he can apply the skills he is learning to a real-world experience.




Mackenzie also helps me out in many ways! She helps me come up with new ideas and aids in advertising initiatives.

Mackenzie is going to school for Education at UW-River Falls and has always loved the water, swimming and mermaids!

She is happy to teach kids about how we can keep our water clean and care for our oceans, lakes and rivers!


More questions?

Watch the Q&A below where I answer questions from my YouTube viewers!