Divers and snorkel­ers sound sup­port for en­vi­ron­ment with un­der­sea mu­sic fes­ti­val

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

In the wa­ter, Em­manuel An­sah cut across the breaks, deftly ma­neu­ver­ing his board, try­ing to catch the eye of the judges sit­ting on a wooden plat­form, look­ing out to sea.

The 19-year-old from Busua started surf­ing five years ago and de­scribed his first time on the waves as “like hav­ing a new girl­friend”.

“I was so happy,” he said. Now he, too, wants to see Ghana be­come a surf­ing des­ti­na­tion in its own right — and one day rep­re­sent the West African na­tion at over­seas com­pe­ti­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Bank, 897,000 for­eign tourists vis­ited Ghana in 2015. In com­par­i­son, 1.1 mil­lion went to Kenya and 8.9 mil­lion trav­eled to South Africa.

But the World Travel and Tourism Coun­cil es­ti­mates num­bers for Ghana could jump to nearly 1.3 mil­lion this year and more than 2 mil­lion by 2027.

With about 550 kilo­me­ters of un­spoiled coast­line, wa­ter sports are be­ing seen as a ma­jor draw.

“Surf­ing has a huge po­ten­tial,” said Ghana tourism spe­cial­ist Gil­bert Abeiku Ag­grey. “We have not de­vel­oped our beaches.

“It’s a raw op­por­tu­nity for any­one who wants to come.”

BIG PINE KEY, Florida — 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 third­largest 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 play- list 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,” said 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 com­mer­cial­free broad­cast via Lubbell Lab­o­ra­tory wa­ter­proof speak­ers strate­gi­cally hung from boats float­ing above the reef.

‘Ethe­real’

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”.

ZHAO HANRONG / XIN­HUA

A com­peti­tor crawls through a mud pit at an ob­sta­cle course in Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia, on Satur­day.

BOB CARE / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A fes­ti­val­goer pre­tends to play a sculp­ture of an in­stru­ment at the Lower Keys Un­der­wa­ter Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in Florida, US, on Satur­day.

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