Is it possible for the mermaids to create a new town with their special ability when they have the bonus +1 shipping card?
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The shipping, whether regular shipping or the temporary shipping bonus, would not have an impact on the mermaid towns. Even with shipping, towns cannot be founded across river; it only counts direct adjacency. So yes, even if they have a shipping bonus, the mermaids could found a town by placing the town marker on the river space that connects 2 half-towns.