Sponge Harvesting Tarpon Springs
Towards the end of 2011 we visited Tarpon Springs, Florida. Oddly enough, this city is known for its history as a sponge harvesting community. In the late 1880s a group of Greeks settled in the area and in 1905 they found that there was an abundance of sponges to be harvested just off the coast of their new home. They perfected diving techniques to gather the sponges and soon built a thriving city on their new commodity.
Unfortunately, in 1947 a red tide pushed through the area wiping out the entire sponge population. Sponge gatherers soon switched professions to shrimp fisherman in order to make a living. Today most of the sponge docks have been turned into restaurants, shops and museums dedicated to the history of sponge fishing in Tarpon Springs. Some effort has been made in the last few years to resurrect sponge gathering in the area, but most of the sponges sold on the docks are actually imported. The city does, however, still hold the highest percentage of Greek Americans in the United States.