It is not myths about mermaids and sires in Scotland, but about the half seal half human selkies.
The legend of the selkies originates from the Northern isles of Scotland, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Orkneys, and the Faerie Islands. In the Scots language, selkies translate to “grey seal,” which describes just half of their legend. A selkie is a seal in the water but one that can take off its skin to become human on land. There are both male and female selkies, and they are more kind and gentle compared to similar myths, like mermaids and sirens.
The most important thing to a selkie is their skin, for if someone can steal it, the selkie will be forced to stay human until they can take it back. The myth goes that once a female selkie went to shore, a man stole her skin, forcing her to be his wife. There are many interpretations of the rest of the story. Some say she found her skin; others say her children accidentally told her about it. Either way, it ends with her retrieving her skin and, like all selkie do when they find their skin, at last, returned to the sea.
The male selkie is less likely to become human for an extended period as they usually go to shore to find lonely women. The myth says that if a woman cries seven tears, it is a call to the male selkie, and one will come to shore to be with her.
This myth has a few different sources of creation. One is that the selkie is the soul of the drowned humans and that once every few moons, they get a second chance to walk and dance by shedding their skin and becoming human once more.
The second is that the story was a misconception of Finnish people wearing animal skin and rowing in animal-skinned canoes. They would have to stop and dry out their clothes, leaving those around them who witnessed as the animal-skin-covered people shed their skin and become human.
The last theory is that of lack of knowledge. When this lore was created, medicine was not where it was today. Oddities were not easy to explain; people blame supernatural beings when a kid is born with abnormalities. So, some blame children born with webbed fingers and toes or scaley skin to be that of selkies descendent.
In today’s time, we know that seals can not transform into humans, but the mythology of it is fascinating. Many movies, books, and art about the selkie show that these legends have a significant impact.