For bio-inspired, fish-like robotic propulsion, the Macro-Fiber Composite (MFC) piezoelectric technology offers noiseless actuation with a balance between actuation force and velocity response. However, internal nonlinear- ities within the MFCs, such as piezoelectric softening, geometric hardening, inertial softening, and nonlinear dissipation, couple with the hydrodynamic loading on the structure from the surrounding fluid. In the present work, we explore nonlinear actuation of MFC cantilevers underwater and develop a mathematical framework for modeling and analysis. In vacuo resonant actuation experiments are conducted for a set of MFC cantilevers of varying length to width aspect ratios to validate the structural model in the absence of fluid loading. These MFC cantilevers are then subjected to underwater resonant actuation experiments, and model simulations are compared with nonlinear experimental frequency response functions. It is observed that semi-empirical hydro- dynamic loads obtained from quasilinear experiments have to be modified to account for amplitude dependent added mass, and additional nonlinear hydrodynamic effects might be present, yielding qualitative differences in the resulting underwater frequency respones curves with increased excitation amplitude.