Diving for sponges aboard Pandora?

I was looking at the March issue of Soundings today and read and article about Tarpon Springs Florida.   The article was written for cruisers who were considering visiting the west coast Florida city but I was particularly struck by the mention of sponge diving, a trade that has been part of the culture of Tarpon Springs since the 1800s.   The article referred to a video about the history of the industry.  I had a tough time finding the video but finally located it on YouTube.  It’s a very interesting look at the sponge industry circa 1930s.

This certainly looks like a tough way to make a living to me.

Interestingly, the method of harvesting natural sponges remains similar today and I guess that the fishery is sustainable or it would have ended long ago.  It seems that the biggest change, and one that has contributed to the fishery’s longevity is that they now cut off the sponges instead of ripping them out as is shown in the video.  This allows the sponges to grow back.

Nice to see that a traditional fishery can persist and not be another example of over fishing and extinction as is so often the case.

So, will we be sponge fishing aboard Pandora?  I can say for sure that there won’t be a hard hat and lead boots for me.

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