Florida mermaids swimming at SC Aquarium

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - There are more than 6,200 species of animals at the South Carolina Aquarium. But for the next week, an additional and rare species will be on display.

The swimmers portraying mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida will swim amid the sea life in the Charleston aquarium's Great Ocean Tank beginning on Saturday.

The troupe's swimmers will perform daily through April 20. It's a bit of a change for the group.{}

"We're not used to swimming in saltwater because at home it's spring water, so it's a little bit different and there's some pretty big fish in there," said "Mermaid Stayce" McConnell.

Aquarium guests will have a chance to have their photos taken with the mermaids. There will also be hands on activities dealing with the aquarium's conservation efforts.

"I love just seeing their faces and they're just in awe," she said. "People just love seeing mermaids in the water, and they're always happy and that makes me happy."

The aquarium's president and CEO said response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Mermaids bring out the inner children in all of us and when you go to one of their shows, you see the adults smiling just as broadly as one of the kids," said CEO Kevin Mills.{}

Mills said the response to the brief appearance by the mermaids has been tremendous with people calling and emailing for details.{}

"Everybody within driving distance probably will be here in the next 10 days to see this once-in-a-lifetime experience," he said.{}