The mermaids at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center are essentially ambassadors to the ocean.

They took turns Monday slipping into a 100,000 gallon tank to glide past zebra sharks and spotted eagle rays to children — mostly young girls — watching behind glass.

The idea is to help kids connect with the sea by giving it a human face. Hales Parcells, an educator and mermaid at the aquarium in Virginia Beach, said they're "inspiring future naturalists, environmentalists and ocean lovers."

Before the show, the mermaids slathered their legs in coconut oil and strapped on silicon tails that had been individually fitted. Their vision is limited underwater to blurry shapes. The children's blinking wristbands guide the mermaids to the glass where they wave and blow kisses.

The show occurs each Monday in April.

—Associated Press