The earliest known named Merbeing, from the Middle East.

Etymology: Akkadian (Semitic), "he who does good to men."

Variant names: Dagon (Hebrew/Semitic), Enki (Sumerian), Oannes (Greek).

Physical description: Human or goatlike above the waist, fish tail below. Sometimes shown as completely human with a fishlike cloak or with waves springing from its shoulders.

Behavior: Stays in the water at night, comes on land in the day. Speaks and acts like a human being.

Distribution: Red Sea.

Significant sighting: The fish-tailed sea god of the Akkadians, Ea is said to have provided them with technological and agricultural skills and the beginnings of their culture. According to the Babylonian writer Berosus, Ea came out of the Red Sea and taught things by day, retiring to the sea at night.

Sources: "Fragments of Chaldaean History," in Isaac Preston Cory, ed., Ancient Fragments (London: W. Pickering, 1832), pp. 18-19, 27-29; Gwen Benwell and Arthur Waugh, Sea Enchantress: The Tale of the Mermaid and Her Kin (New York: Citadel, 1961), pp. 23-28.

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