No, this is not an early April Fools' prank. Mermaids will be swimming among the sharks next month at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston.

The World Famous Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, a team of female entertainers clad in elaborate fish-tailed costumes, will perform underwater shows at the aquarium April 12-20 in the Great Ocean Tank.

As their name suggests, the dancers originated at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, a freshwater spring north of Tampa in Florida where mermaid shows are performed daily. To further their facade as human fish, the Mermaids have learned special techniques to breathe through small oxygen hoses rather than masks.

The entertainers will perform three shows daily at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. during their weeklong stint at the S.C. Aquarium. The shows will be included in the regular admission fees, which range from $15 to $25

The aquarium, which is a nonprofit organization, paid $3,000 to hire the performers.

Kate Ditloff, spokeswoman for the attraction, said the performances are intended to attract more visitors during many public schools' spring break.

"The Georgia Aquarium and the aquarium in Denver have both done (mermaid shows), and guests seemed to really enjoy it and they had a lot of great feedback," Ditloff said.

She added that unlike those "entertainment-based" shows, the S.C. Aquarium will emphasize marine education alongside the attraction.

In addition to photo opportunities, craft workshops and dress-up stations for children, there will be a variety of educational stations where, according to an aquarium statement, "guests can enjoy hands-on activities focused on conservation efforts to sustain the beauty of these mermaids and the marine life around them."

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.