Carrabelle History Museum presents a Special Exhibit on Sponge Diving in Carrabelle and North Florida
October 1 - October 31
The Carrabelle History Museum is presenting a special exhibit on Sponge Diving in Carrabelle and the North Gulf Coast of Florida. This exhibit will be on display from Friday, October 1 through Sunday, 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.
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 but 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. This made both Carrabelle and Apalachicola great locations for viable sponging businesses.
Eventually, “new” diving technology revolutionized the industry. Heavy brass helmets, dive suits, and weights, both weighted belts and lead in the shoes would enable divers to literally walk along the seafloor. They would breathe air through a long tube tethered to the sponge boat above them. While this allowed divers to stay down longer and harvest more sponges, it was also much more dangerous.
This special exhibit will explore the history of sponge diving in Carrabelle and the area. Visitors can learn about the migration of Greek sponge divers to and from Carrabelle. This exhibit will include an authentic, brass sponge diving helmet used by a former local diver, a diorama of an open-air sponge market, early postcard images, and historical photos of Carrabelle’s sponge boats and local sponge divers plus a fascinating video of sponge diving from the diver’s perspective.
Carrabelle History Museum is located, one block from Carrabelle Harbor, at 106 SE Avenue B, Carrabelle, FL. Funding in part by the Franklin County Tourist Development Council. For more information, contact 850-697-2141.