Snorkelers, divers in the Florida Keys listen to music beneath the sea

BIG PINE KEY — About 300 snorkelers and divers submerged Saturday to listen to a local radio station’s music broadcast beneath the sea in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The quirky Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival, held at Looe Key Reef along the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef, featured four hours of commercial-free music.

“Music underwater has a real ethereal feel to it,” said festival founder Bill Becker, the news director at WWUS. “You don’t just hear it through your ears, you hear it through your whole body.”

Songs including thetheme from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” the Beatles’ “Octopus’s Garden” and Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins” were piped underwater by speakers suspended from boats strategically positioned at the reef.

Some divers were costumed to spoof contestants and judges from popular television reality shows. “Contestants” put on their own show underwater, pretending to play instruments like a trom-bonefish, sitar-fish and clambourine sculpted by Florida Keys artist August Powers.

According to one festival participant, people weren’t the only ones that seemed to enjoy the underwater concert.

“I think the fish liked the music,” said 7-year-old snorkeler Jaden Gill of Orlando. “It sounded like a band is playing.”

As well as offering an unusual experience for dive and snorkel enthusiasts, the broadcast included diver awareness announcements emphasizing ways to enjoy the coral reef ecosystem while minimizing impacts on the underwater environment.

“Interspersed among the music we put preservation messages about the coral reef,” said Becker. “We want divers to think about conserving the reef for generations to come.”

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