An offbeat Halloween tradition took place in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary this past weekend when scuba divers submerged 25 feet beneath the surface to carve jack-o’-lanterns during the annual Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest.
In waters off Key Largo Saturday afternoon, underwater artists of all ages used dive knives and other carving tools to transform their orange gourds into spooktacular Halloween jack-o’-lanterns. The 18 participating divers were challenged to keep the hollow, naturally buoyant pumpkins from floating off while they carved their creations.
The team of Emily Beukers of Washington, D.C., and Miranda Potrie of British Columbia, Canada, impressed the judges with a shark-tastic cutout accented with a skillfully sculpted skull and crossbones. The duo won a free dive trip for two at Amoray Dive Resort, the contest’s organizer.
Other standout entries included a very cool cat, a pirate with an eye patch and a knife between its teeth, a jack-o’-lantern worn as a dive helmet, a screaming ghoul and sea creatures including octopus and jellyfish.
Curious finned and gilled yellowtail spectators swam close to the artistic action, hanging around for any bits of “‘food” that floated off.
The annual contest, scheduled around October’s traditional Halloween celebration, was staged near Horseshoe Reef about five miles off Key Largo.