Friends With Benefits: Ariana Liuzzi
Ariel ain’t got nothing on Ariana! While Disney’s Ariel is a work of fiction, Ariana Liuzzi’s relationship to the ocean and its inhabitants is quite real, in both fun and philanthropic ways.
First, Liuzzi works as a mermaid at the Silverton’s 117,000-gallon reef aquarium, where she interacts with thousands of fish and different species of stingrays and sharks. Second, Liuzzi works for the nonprofit Ocean Matters.
“I was obsessed with the water at a young age and my parents put me in synchronized swimming when I was 8 years old,” says the California native, who moved to Las Vegas as a young child. Liuzzi competed all over the nation as part of the Nevada Desert Mermaids. She retired at 17, graduated high school, and didn’t know what she wanted to do. “I didn’t think working at a desk was going to be suitable after spending many years under the water,” she said.
Through her swimming coach, she was recruited for the mermaid role at Silverton in 2009. “Everything came together when I put the costume on and got in the tank—it just clicked,” Liuzzi said. Through her job at Silverton, Liuzzi became scuba certified, which opened up a whole other world for her, she said.
She’s now become divemaster certified, and through Ocean Matters she works with high school kids from around the world and teaches them to scuba while teaching them about endangered marine ecosystems through first-hand learning projects.
The Mermaid Lounge is situated right next to the aquarium so guests can relax and watch the fish and mermaids swim. They can also enjoy some specialty cocktails like the Mer-mojito, a blend of Bacardi and Malibu rums, muddled mint and blue curaçao. This month, guests can book the little ones into a day class at Silverton’s mermaid school, where each student will receive instruction on how to be a mermaid, plus get their own tail and get to swim inside the aquarium’s tank. “It’s a completely amazing experience,” Liuzzi said.