THE fisherman said to have landed a mermaid claimed yesterday he was also a victim of the hoax that dragged more then 2,000 curious onlookers to Aberdeen harbour. The To family said they caught nothing but a few big ''sun-fish'' on their three-day outing and that someone had deliberately spread the mermaid rumour to bring them bad luck. To Hei, who is in his 40s, said the report ''was absolutely untrue''. ''We didn't catch a mermaid or any strange big fish. Please leave us alone,'' he said. He and his 14 crew members were swamped by questions about mermaids when they returned early yesterday. Some of the crowd who had gathered since about 3 pm on Tuesday had even waited on the jetty overnight to ensure they did not miss the arrival of the boat and its catch. But Mr To and his crew unloaded the crates of regular fish, and there was no sign on the long-haired, finned wonder that had caused such a stir among the superstitious waterfolk. Mr To's wife, To Ng Nga-mui, said some big ''sun-fish'' had been netted on the trip but there was never a suggestion that there had been a mermaid among them. Mrs To said mermaids meant bad luck to fishermen and no one would want to catch one. ''I believe someone wants to bring bad fortune to our family by spreading this rumour. But I have no idea who did it,'' Mrs To said. ''I don't believe mermaids are beautiful as they are portrayed in Western cultures. To me mermaids are strange creatures with round heads and long hair.'' When Typhoon Dot hit Hong Kong at the end of last month, tales were told of a fishing boat catching two mermaids before letting them go. Marine experts have discounted theories that sightings of dugongs - large vegetarian marine mammals which inhabit shallow tropical waters around northern Australia and New Guinea - could fool local fishermen into thinking they had seen a mermaid. Senior fisheries officer Dr Paul Mak Mo-shun said he had not heard of dugongs in Hong Kong waters.