Reef Protection to Highlight Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival July 8
LOOE KEY, Florida Keys - A one-of-a-kind underwater concert is to promote reef protection as it entertains divers and snorkelers Saturday, July 8, in the waters off the Lower Florida Keys.
The 39th annual Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival takes place at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary south of Big Pine Key. The sanctuary protects the waters surrounding the entire Florida Keys island chain including the continental United States' only living coral barrier reef.
The concert draws several hundred divers and snorkelers each year to immerse themselves in the region's colorful underwater panorama. Staged by the Keys' US1 Radio 104.1 FM, the event provides a "submerged soundtrack" as participants explore a diverse realm of tropical fish, coral formations and other marine life.
Those planning to submerge themselves in the festival can learn about reef preservation Friday, July 7, 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.
During the free event, attendees can tour the center and get a firsthand look at Mote's groundbreaking coral cultivation and reef restoration efforts. Other attractions are to include live music, light bites and beverages.
Saturday's sub-sea songfest is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with music broadcast underwater via speakers suspended beneath boats positioned above the reef. The playlist typically features ocean-themed ditties such as the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" and Jimmy Buffett's "Fins."
Divers and snorkelers might even catch "mermaids" and other costumed characters pretending to perform their own marine melodies.
While the festival offers participants a unique experience, its primary purpose is to inform them about eco-conscious diving practices and ways they can help protect the Keys' marine ecosystem, which has been likened to an underwater rainforest. The underwater broadcast features diver awareness messages about how to enjoy the reef responsibly while minimizing negative environmental impacts.
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.
Event information: lowerkeyschamber.com/chamber-
Lower Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com/lowerkeys or 1-800-872-3722
Florida Keys diving information: fla-keys.com/diving