How does the sequel to a hoax provoke over 3 million viewers to tune in? If you don’t know, you’re apparently one of the few who don’t. The show in question is Mermaids: The New Evidence and it is now officially listed as Animal Planet’s most-watched telecast in the channel’s history. Yes, you read that right. The special is about mermaids.

The “documentary” – read our thoughts on it – aired on Sunday on Animal Planet to 3.6 million viewers, creating a new ratings record for the network. Yes, this surpasses the numbers for even the Puppy Bowl, in case you were in doubt.

Mermaids: The Body Found was the original program, also a hoax, and this year’s sequel has become huge. And yes, believe it or not, some viewers are fooled, thinking these shows are factual.

If you’re familiar with Alien Autopsy videos of the past, you understand the format of this new “documentary”. These specials trace mermaids living in the Greenland Sea and actors playing scientists offer their expertise as well as video of the creatures doing what they do. There’s even a sinister government cover-up at play, helping keep the rest of us ignorant to mermaid activity, of course. That’s big brother for you.

Press releases preceding the premier of the special included “exclusive interview with Dr. Paul Robertson, former NOAA scientist,” which helped the show to cleverly pretend at legitimacy.

“The phenomenon of Mermaids has truly been a watershed – and a watercooler – moment for Animal Planet,” said Animal Planet president Marjorie Kaplan. “These extraordinary television specials have electrified, challenged and entertained television audiences and online fans alike.”

I hope there are none of you fans starting to believe in the existence of mer-people, but just in case you doubt the show is science fiction, EW reminds us all that the real National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has stated: “No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found.”