LOOE KEY, Florida Keys - A portion of the continental United States' only living coral barrier reef is to be the stage for divers and snorkelers portraying reefality show personalities during the annual Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival.
Set for Saturday, July 14, the quirky underwater concert takes place at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary approximately six miles south of Big Pine Key. Each year the songfest draws several hundred divers and snorkelers to explore the region's colorful underwater panorama of marine life.
The 2012 festival offers an offbeat takeoff on popular television reality shows with participants costumed as contestants and judges from Underwater Idol, Dancing with the Starfish and Subsea Survivor. Festival attendees might spot iconic former Idol judge Simon Coral and current judge J. Lo Tide or previous Survivor winner Richard Hatchery.
Set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the marine musical event is staged by Keys radio station US1 Radio 104.1 FM. The music is broadcast underwater via Lubell Laboratory speakers suspended beneath boats positioned above the reef.
The concert's playlist typically ranges from humpback whale recordings to ocean-themed songs such as Jimmy Buffett's Fins, Donovan's Atlantis and the Beatles' Octopus's Garden.
Participants might even catch the would-be reefality stars tooting their own horns - pretending to play underwater musical instruments like a trom-bonefish and clambourine sculpted by Florida Keys artist August Powers.
As well as offering unique enjoyment for dive enthusiasts, the festival carries a serious message of reef preservation. The broadcast incorporates diver awareness announcements emphasizing ways to enjoy the reef while minimizing impacts on the underwater environment.
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.
Event information: www.lowerkeyschamber.com
Lower Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/lowerkeys