Only in the Keys: Dive into the music at underwater festival

You never know what or who you’ll see at the underwater fest.
You never know what or who you’ll see at the underwater fest.

An underwater concert is set to promote reef protection and entertain divers and snorkelers July 8 during the Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival.

The one-of-a-kind event takes place at the Looe Key Reef, about six miles south of Big Pine Key. The concert draws several hundred divers and snorkelers each year to immerse themselves in the colorful underwater panorama. It’s staged by Keys radio station 104.1 FM.

The fun begins at 6 p.m. July 7 with a gathering with hors d’oeuvres and beverages at the Tiki Bar at the Looe Key Reef Resort, 27340 Overseas Highway on Ramrod Key. For costs and reservations, call (305) 872-2411.

The next day’s songfest is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Music is broadcast underwater via Lubell Laboratory speakers suspended beneath boats positioned above the reef, and the play list typically ranges from humpback whale recordings to ocean-themed ditties such as the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and the theme from “The Little Mermaid.”

Participants might even catch “mermaids” and other costumed characters attempting to perform their own marine melodies — pretending to play underwater musical instruments such as a trom-bonefish and clambourine sculpted by Florida Keys artist August Powers.

While the festival offers enjoyment for those attending, its primary purpose is to encourage preservation of the Keys’ coral reef ecosystem. The broadcast incorporates diver awareness announcements emphasizing ways to enjoy the reef while minimizing 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.