Playing the Lower Keys: Concert 'underwater'

Jeff Wright, costumed as a seahorse, rocks with a fake guitar, during the Underwater Music Festival in the Florida. (AP)

Hundreds of music-loving snorkelers and divers, joined by distance swimmer Diana Nyad, ducked beneath the waves Saturday as a radio station broadcast a concert underwater at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Such songs as the theme from 'The Little Mermaid', the Beatles' 'Yellow Submarine' and Jimmy Buffett's 'Fins' entertained listeners during the four-hour music session.

Some snorkelers pretended to jam underwater on mock guitars or play other fake instruments such as a whimsical fish flute.

Others wore costumes depicting mermaids and seahorses as music sounded from waterproof speakers suspended beneath boats.

"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 herself through the more than 100-mile swim. One of the songs from Nyad's personal soundtrack, 'Me and Bobby McGee', was played in her honour Saturday.

The so-called 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.

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

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