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In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides we see that Mermaids are fleeing away the from man-made light of the lighthouse and Blackbeard's ship. I assumed that they had a problem with light like vampires have with sunlight.

The following conversation happens around the 1:27:19 mark where skeletons of mermaids are found tied to trees:

Blackbeard: Look. Look! Staked out to die, to dry in the sun. Only half in the water. Not enough to live, But just enough to make the dying slow.

Angelica: Maybe she'll have a change of heart when the sun rises.

Blackbeard: Oh, aye, she will burn, but I cannot wait for the sun.

In another instance they are seen toppling over and killing the crew of Barbossa's ship under rainy and cloudy weather. So no light there to disturb them which supports the above assumption.

But Syrena (captured mermaid) had no problem with sunlight in the glass box while being taken to the fountain.

Syrena taken to fountain of youth in glass box.

Why did mermaids fear light and were killed in sunlight in one instance and not in another?

Note: After the glass box crashed Syrena changed to human form which can be debated to survive in sunlight or not. But in the glass box she was still as a mermaid in water.

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It's not the light that kills them--it's the drying out. Tying them to trees prevents them from getting back into the water, so they dry out. It's not clear exactly how this kills them, but it's possible they need their skin to be wet to breathe properly, like amphibians. Syrena has water in her glass box, so she doesn't dry out even though it's sunny.

In fact, mermaids are drawn to manmade light (and song), which is how Blackbeard baits them:

Ezekiel: "We're doomed. They be drawn to man-made light."
Cabin Boy: "Sharks?"
Ezekiel: "Worse than sharks, boy. There'll be mermaids upon us within the hour, you mark my words! And we're the bait!" PotC: On Stranger Tides

They do flee from Greek fire, which would probably kill them without having to dry them out. It floats on top of the water, making it very difficult for mermaids to surface and attack humans, and it was--at least in real antiquity--rumored to keep burning even when submerged in water. So even if they're not pathologically afraid of it, it's certainly a good reason for them to bug out, since they're unlikely to win a battle once there's Greek fire flying around.

  • I thought of this. But when lighthouse exploded and Blackbeard's ship spit fire they were already inside water and pretty much wet. Still they fled away. – Rahul Dec 22 '17 at 16:04
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    @Rahul What I'm trying to say is that you don't have to be a magical creature with a mysterious aversion to fire. I don't like fire too much either, at least not too close to me. Neither do I like to stand around in a flashlight when I'm trying to kill people and not get killed myself. But your question seems to ask for any inherent aversion special to mermaids. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 22 '17 at 16:27
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    @Rahul When things start exploding, you run (swim) away. That has nothing to do with any special aversion to sunlight or fire - only a general (well-advised) desire to stay away from things that are exploding/on fire. – Steve-O Dec 22 '17 at 16:31
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    @Rahul Greek fire is srs bznz, even if you're in the water. It's sticky, it's very difficult to put out, and it can boil away water. They were also just done with the battle in general. – MissMonicaE Dec 22 '17 at 17:25
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    Hello! Is there any way that you can add the quote from Ezekiel and the cabin boy into your question? Thanks so much :) – steelersquirrel Dec 22 '17 at 20:28

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