Sponge Diving in Carrabelle and the North Gulf Coast of Florida

Friday, October 1 through Thursday, October 31

There is no charge for admission but donations are gladly accepted. The museum and exhibit are open Wednesdays 12-5 pm, Thursdays thru Saturdays 10 am – 5 pm and Sundays 12 – 5 pm. Carrabelle History Museum is located, one block from Carrabelle Harbor, at 106 SE Avenue B, Carrabelle, FL.  For more information, contact 850-697-2141.

Funded in part by the Franklin County Tourist Development Council.

Sponging diving started in the Bahamas and moved west to Florida in the early 1800s. From Key West it spread up the Florida Gulf Coast. “By 1879, Carrabelle had the largest sponge fleet in Florida next to Key West”, according to David Shubow in the Tequesta: The Journal of the Historical Association of Southern Florida.

Florida’s tough, soft sponges were considered to be some of the best in the world. Sponges from the northern Gulf were denser than other Florida sponges because of the colder water. Many of them were harvested just off of Dog Island.

Eventually “new” diving technology revolutionized the industry. Heavy brass helmets, diving suits, and weights – weighted belts and lead in the shoes would enable divers to walk along the sea floor. They would breathe through a long tube connected to the boat above. While this enabled divers to stay down longer and harvest more sponges it was also much more dangerous.

This temporary exhibit will explore the history of sponge diving in Carrabelle and the area. Come and learn about the migration of Greek sponge divers to and from Carrabelle. This exhibit will include history photos of Carrabelle sponge boats and local sponge divers, an old, brass sponge diving helmet and more.

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