A weekend underwater concert underscored reef protection for conservation-minded divers and snorkelers in the Florida Keys — home to the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef.
The Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival took place Saturday at Looe (pronounced “Lou”) Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary south of Big Pine Key. Staged by local radio station US1 104.1 FM, it encouraged fun, environmentally responsible diving and preservation of the world’s coral reefs.
“We put music underwater so that the divers and snorkelers and fish and the marine life can enjoy it,” said Bill Becker, the festival’s director and the station’s news director. “And at the same time, we have a serious message about the coral reef.
“(It’s) about preserving the reef, about lessening our own impacts to it and being aware of just how important the reef is to the economy of the Florida Keys and to this country.”
Music and reef protection public service announcements were broadcast by the radio station and delivered underwater via speakers suspended beneath boats above the reef.
Divers and snorkelers enjoyed ocean-themed songs including the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins” and the theme from “The Little Mermaid.”
Some divers even spotted mermaids swaying beneath the waves. They and other costumed characters strummed air guitar and pretended to play replica underwater musical instruments like a “barra-tuba” and “trom-bonefish” sculpted by Lower Keys artist August Powers.