The Florida Keys’ living coral reef is widely known for its marine diversity, not for subterranean music or seductive mermaids. Except, that is, during the Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival.
This unique event draws several hundred divers and snorkelers to enjoy the sound of music in the Keys…underwater.
Staged by Keys radio station US 1 Radio 104.1 FM, the submerged songfest typically features ocean- and water-themed selections ranging from the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” to humpback whale songs and “water music” created by local musicians.
The music is piped underwater via Lubell Laboratory speakers suspended beneath boats positioned above the reef. Organizers say the sound quality is extremely clear, with an ethereal effect caused by the sound waves’ transmission through water.
Bizarre reef denizens can be sighted during the event. Past festivals have featured “The Snorkeling Elvises,” a longhaired mermaid with a harp, an offbeat “Alice in Waterland” tea party, and an underwater band complete with tuba.
Besides its quirky popular appeal, the Underwater Music Festival carries a serious message of reef preservation, incorporating diver awareness and ways to enjoy the reef while minimizing impacts on the underwater environment.
Divers and snorkelers interested in participating can reserve space on boats run by Lower Keys dive operators or launch their own boats from public ramps and marinas in the area.
This year the event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 9. The underwater concert takes place at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary approximately six miles south of Big Pine Key.
Find event information at the Big Pine & Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce website: www.lowerkeyschamber.com