yaku - water
runa - people

La Sirena
The yakuruna are believed to be inhabitants of the water. They are associated and sometimes even identified with other inhabitants of the water, such as bufeos - pink river dolphins. La Sirena - mermaids, yakumamas - mother of the water is said to have the power over the the elements. Some people of the Amazon Region believe that the Yakuruna look exactly like humans, except that their faces look towards their backs, or their feet are directed to the back. The underwater population are half human and half animals, they can walk and breathe under water normally and their task is to seduce the voyagers of the sea. Mermaids only come out in sublime trances to cure sicknesses of the water.