Students attending a high school on Governor’s Island have been coming to Coney Island this winter. And it wasn’t to cut school; it was to scuba dive in the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, cleaning the tanks of the beloved critters.

The school, the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, is a public high school with a focus on marine science and technology. The program is part of an internship for nine students that allows them to scuba dive. But the waters around New York City are too cold in the winter so they use the Coney Island aquarium, according to the New York Times, where the students are tasked with cleaning the algae build-up in the tanks and general housekeeping chores.

The Times reports:

David DeNardo, the aquarium’s general curator, said that enlisting the students, who are paid minimum wage as part of the internship, was a good way to further the aquarium’s mission. Eventually, the aquarium and the school plan to develop a curriculum related to the Glover’s Reef exhibit, so that the students can better understand the species whose habitat they are keeping clean.

“It gives us an opportunity to teach these kids our conservation message,” Mr. DeNardo said. “We look at this as a chance to foster the next generation of conservationists.”

The students who dive are on the school’s professional diving track, where many of the students go on to study marine science, tourism and construction. When they first came to the school, they had no experience with diving but they learned about it, first in a classroom, then in a pool and finally in Jamaica Bay.

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