Playing the Lower Keys: Concert piped underwater in Florida

Sarah Brunner, costumed as a mermaid, pretends to play a starfish guitar Saturday, July 11, 2015, during the Underwater Music Festival in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (Bob Care/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

BIG PINE KEY, Fla. (AP) — Hundreds of snorkelers and divers ducked beneath the waves for a radio station’s four-hour underwater concert Saturday at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, joined by distance swimmer Diana Nyad.

Such songs as the theme from “The Little Mermaid,” the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins” entertained listeners during the four-hour session. Some snorkelers pretended to jam on mock guitars and other fake instruments such as a whimsical fish flute. Others wore costumes depicting mermaids and seahorses.

In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Jeff Wright, costumed as a seahorse, rocks with a fake guitar, Saturday, July 11, 2015, during the Underwater Music Festival in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (Bob Care/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Jeff Wright, costumed as a seahorse, rocks with a fake guitar, Saturday, July 11, 2015, during the Underwater Music Festival in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (Bob Care/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

“To be immersed in the sea and feel the music coming from underneath instead of through headphones — it’s very magical and distinct,” Nyad said. “You couldn’t hear it this well if you were in a concert sitting in the front row.”

In September 2013, Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage, singing to herself to get her through the more than 100-mile swim. One of the songs from Nyad’s personal soundtrack, “Me and Bobby McGee,” was played in her honor Saturday.

The Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival took place at Looe Key Reef, part of the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef, located about six miles south of Big Pine Key.

“This is a way for people to really appreciate the coral reef while at the same time listening to an environmental message about coral protection,” explained WWUS radio station news director and festival founder Bill Becker.

In this photoKaitlin Goddard, left, blows through an artist's flying fish whistle, Saturday, July 11, 2015, during the Underwater Music Festival in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.  (Bob Care/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
In this photoKaitlin Goddard, left, blows through an artist’s flying fish whistle, Saturday, July 11, 2015, during the Underwater Music Festival in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (Bob Care/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

Staged by WWUS in partnership with a local chamber of commerce, the festival featured music specially programmed for the aquatic listening experience and broadcast underwater via waterproof speakers suspended beneath boats. Accompanying the tunes were coral reef conservation messages and tips on environmentally friendly diving practices.

Marathon swimmer Diana Nyad swims during the Underwater Music Festival Saturday, July 11, 2015, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.   (Bob Care/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
Marathon swimmer Diana Nyad swims during the Underwater Music Festival Saturday, July 11, 2015, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (Bob Care/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

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