The 37th annual Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival takes place at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary about 6 miles south of Big Pine Key. For some 30 years, the sanctuary has protected the waters surrounding the entire Keys island chain.
Presented by the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce and staged by US1 Radio 104.1 FM, the concert encourages environmentally responsible diving and preservation of the Keys’ coral reef ecosystem.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, participants can swim among Looe Key’s vivid marine life and coral formations while listening to music broadcast by the radio station. Tunes are piped underwater via speakers suspended beneath boats above the reef.
Selections are to include marine melodies ranging from Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins” to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film theme and the Beatles’ “Octopus’s Garden.”
Those planning to submerge themselves in the festival can learn about reef preservation Friday, Sept. 17, during a 6-8 p.m. welcome gathering at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration, 24244 Overseas Highway on Summerland Key. Representatives of the center will be on hand to showcase Mote’s groundbreaking coral cultivation and restoration efforts.
During Saturday’s aquatic experience, the music is to be interspersed with diver awareness messages about ways to minimize environmental impacts on the world’s reefs, whose rich biodiversity has led them to be called the rainforests of the sea.
As well as colorful reef fish and other marine life, divers and snorkelers might even spot “mermaids” and costumed characters beneath the waves.
Ocean enthusiasts interested in participating in the unique experience can reserve space on boats run by Lower Keys dive operators or launch their own boats from public ramps and marinas in the area.
Event information: lowerkeyschamber.com
Lower Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com/lowerkeys or 305-872-2411
Lower Keys dive and snorkel information: fla-keys.com/lower-keys/diving/
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