July 8: Underwater Music Festival for Reef Protection
A one-of-a-kind underwater concert to promote reef protection while entertaining divers and snorkelers will take place Saturday, July 8, in the waters off the Lower Florida Keys.
The 39th annual Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival will be held 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 at 24244 Overseas Highway on Summerland Key.
Saturday’s subsea 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.” “Mermaids” and other costumed characters will also perform.
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.