Growing up on the Russian Pacific coast, I spent lots of time by the ocean. I was mesmerized by its beauty and power. I could stay in the water for hours admiring the sea life until I turned blue and my parents had to fish me out of the water. I read all the books about the sea and its inhabitants that I could find. I even thought of becoming a "fish professor" some day. I felt I was a part of this magical underwater world more than a part of the world of humans. I thought of myself as a mermaid: a girl with salt water in her blood.