By FloridaKeysNewsBureau For SouthFloridaReporter.com, July 12, 2015 – Big Pine Key, Florida Keys — More than 400 divers and snorkelers explored a portion of the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef Saturday while rocking to a subsea concert during the annual Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival.
Staged by Keys radio station WWUS and the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce, the festival encouraged coral reef protection and environmentally responsible diving. The event took place at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary about six miles south of Big Pine Key.
“This is a celebration of the coral reef,” said festival founder Bill Becker. “It’s a way for people to really appreciate the coral reef while at the same time listening to an environmental message, and we are committed to preserving the coral reef and keeping it safe.”
Music broadcast by the radio station via underwater speakers suspended beneath boats above the reef. Swimming among colorful tropical fish and coral formations, participants swayed to sea-focused offerings that included humpback whale songs and melodies like the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins.”
Participants included endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, who in September 2013 became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage. Nyad, who kept focused during the almost 111-mile swim by singing a mental “playlist” to herself, said actually hearing tunes underwater was incredible.
“You couldn’t hear it this well if you were in a concert sitting in the front row and actually watching the fingers on the guitar,” Nyad said. “It’s very magical and distinct underwater.”
One of the songs from Nyad’s personal Cuba-to-Key-West soundtrack, “Me and Bobby McGee,” was broadcast during the festival in her honor.