Florida divers, snorkelers submerge for reef music festival

In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, a yellowtail snapper swims by participants pretending to play a local artist's musical instrument sculptures at the Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival Saturday, July 8, 2017, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Big Pine Key, Fla. The event at Looe Key Reef attracted about 400 divers and snorkelers who got wet to listen to a Keys radio station's special four-hour broadcast with music and coral reef conservation announcements piped beneath the sea. From left are Kama Cannon, Marsella Munoz and Madeline Schoepf. (/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

About 400 divers and snorkelers have submerged in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for a local radio station's broadcast beneath the sea advocating reef preservation

BIG PINE KEY, Fla. — 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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