Sponging at Key West

Sponging at Key West


  • Sponging at Key West

Published Date

  • published 1940


[page 2]

The "bay grounds" cover an area of about 3,400 square miles, and
the "key grounds" comprise an area of about 950 square miles. Not all of
this section is sponge-producing; the productive areas being less in extent
than the total area. Greek spongers work the "bay grounds" of Tarpon
Springs and the "key grounds" of Key West.

The spongers are forbidden to use diving equipment in these waters.
It is claimed that the sponge gives off seed and that if the divers go into
deep water with helmets and heavy equipment they will trample up the beds
and kill the bearing sponge.

Method of Fishing

Sponge fishermen use a 25- to 40-foot boat of shallow draught to go
over the many low spots of the keys. These craft are equipped with sleeping
accommodations and cooking facilities so that the boats may remain away
from port a week or a mouth, depending on favorable weather for
operations. One to six dories or dingies are carried according to the size of
the boat and number of the crew. In such boats the actual work is carried
on. Two men work in a dingy, one propelling the boat by sculling, and the
other in the bow doing the actual hooking of the sponge.

The sponge hook is a heavy three-tined fork attached at right angles
to a pole form six to 30 feet in length, depending upon the depth of the
water from which the sponges are taken. Except when