Florida divers, snorkelers submerge for reef music festival

(ABC News) — A local radio station’s broadcast underwater in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary on Saturday attracted about 400 divers and snorkelers who listened to music and announcements advocating reef preservation.

The Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival at Looe Key Reef, part of the world’s third-largest living coral barrier reef, featured four hours of music custom-programmed by station WWUS for subsea listening.

“We have a captive audience down there,” said Bill Becker, the event’s co-founder and the station’s news director. “We have divers and snorkelers listening to public service announcements about reef preservation, coral reef etiquette and diver awareness.

“It’s things that they can do to lessen their impact on the coral reef,” he said.

The aquatic-focused playlist included the theme from the “The Little Mermaid,” the Beatles‘ “Octopus’s Garden” and the theme from the iconic shark motion picture “Jaws.”

“We just wanted to get their (participants) attention,” laughed Becker.

Other songs included Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins,” the theme from the television classic “Flipper” and “Atlantis” by Donovan.

Participants in the water could hear the commercial-free broadcast via Lubbell Laboratory waterproof speakers strategically hung from boats floating above the reef.

Several divers were costumed, including two mermaids and a Sponge Bob cartoon character. Others pretended to play Florida Keys artist August Powers’ sculpted musical instruments.

Becker described the underwater listening experience at “ethereal,” saying that the sound was not loud, but very clear and it seemed that music could be “felt through your body and not just through your ears.”

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