Police have asked for public help to identify a half-naked woman found wandering the streets of California claiming to be a mermaid.

Authorities in Fresno say the woman was found on Millerton Rd near a lake close to Table Mountain Casino about 3am on Tuesday.

She was reportedly dressed only in a sports bra and had wet hair, later telling police she had "been in the water".

She was spotted by a motorist who stopped to check she was OK, a police spokesman told The Independent.


The woman then asked for help and to be taken to hospital. She was driven to a medical centre in northern Fresno where officers were called to help establish her identity.

Under questioning, the woman told investigators her name was Joanna and that she was a mermaid.

According to The Independent, a physical examination revealed the woman suffered from webbed feet, a relatively rare condition in which some or all of the toes are either fused or feature a loose flap of skin between each digit.

Officers described her behaviour as "bizarre" and said they were still trying to establish whether her failure to state her identity was a result of medical reasons or simply a decision not to.

The woman was "coherent and responsive" but unable to answer most questions, hospital sources told The Fresno Bee.

An initial appeal described the woman as "aged between 16 and 30, with brown hair, brown eyes and webbed toes on both feet". She was not carrying a driver's licence or ID card.

Police later released a statement saying they now believe the woman is a 33-year-old from Virginia who travelled to Fresno last week to check out the area with a view to moving there.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office did not release her name on Thursday, adding she may have been the victim of a crime, according to the Bee.