LOOE KEY, Florida Keys — Conservation-minded divers and snorkelers can enjoy a unique underwater concert that supports reef protection Saturday, July 11, in the Florida Keys, home to the continental United States' only living coral barrier reef.
The 36th annual Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary about 6 miles south of Big Pine Key. Staged by local radio station US1 104.1 FM, it encourages environmentally responsible diving and preservation of the world's coral reefs.
The festival features ocean-themed music broadcast by the radio station and piped underwater through specialized speakers suspended beneath boats above the reef.
“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 preserving the coral reef and lessening our own impacts to it.”
Divers and snorkelers can enjoy ocean ditties — such as the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins” and the theme from “The Little Mermaid” — as they explore Looe Key’s colorful realm of tropical fish, coral formations and other marine life.
Festival organizers stress that social distancing and other safety protocols to combat COVID-19 will be observed on all charter dive boats and should be practiced on private vessels as well.
Underwater enthusiasts unable to be in the Keys can participate remotely, sharing the listening experience via the station’s website at us1radio.com/.
The music is to be interspersed with diver-awareness messages about ways to minimize environmental impacts on the world’s coral reefs, whose rich biodiversity has led them to be called the rainforests of the sea.
While the festival’s primary purpose is to promote reef protection and eco-conscious diving, it also offers a bucket-list underwater experience. Some participants might even spot “mermaids” and other costumed characters swaying beneath the waves, adding visual excitement to the unique conservation concert.