Legend has it that the lagoon itself is the domain of the mermaid goddess, Britomartis, whose likeness is to be found replicated on souvenirs throughout Crete. There are many myths surrounding Britomartis, and the details of her story may have been changed many times over thousands of years. What is certain is that her image is found on coins that were discovered beneath the waters in the submerged city of Olous.
The most popular version of her story around these parts is that she was the daughter of Zeus and Carme. A nymph whose name means sweet maiden, she was born in Gortys on the island and was the Minoan goddess of hunting and the mountains. So alluring was she that King Minos himself became obsessed with her beauty and pursued her. To protect her honour and escape the randy monarch, she threw herself into the sea and became entangled in some nets set by local fishermen. They rescued her and ever since, as an act of gratitude, she has become the protector of seafarers.