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Old 05-10-2018, 12:40 PM
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RickI RickI is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,691

I just came across an interesting graphic from H.L. Ettman & Co., 1897, in the Library of Congress.

Click image for full sized photo.

H.L. Ettman & Co. or the H.L. Ettman Sponge Company were sponge and chamois importers. I believe this graphic capturing life, death and routine for sponge fishermen over a range of technology was used to create the following advertisement.

Sponges were gold in those days before the blight and growth of the synthetics market. The graphic highlights tasks confronting sponge fishermen in the Med and South Florida, Bahamas and Caribbean. The use of naked divers and the drop stone or skandalopetra was popular in the Med. but displaced by surface supplied air techniques given greater depths and duration of dives. The presence of US flagged vessels, some with Greek lines are confusing where skandalopetra divers are shown. Historically conchs largely out of Key West recovered shallow sponges using viewing buckets and hooks on poles. A large influx of divers from Greece came to Tarpon Springs with more sophisticated and efficient in-water harvesting techniques. Overfishing, resource depletion and conflicts soon came about. There was the Sponge War between the Keys Conchs and Greeks, .

A movie was even made about the conflict, "Beneath Twelve Mile Reef" (1953) staring a young Robert Wagner. You can see the movie at:

The various harvesting techniques are shown in the graphic although it was largely confined to hook boats and hard hat divers in our part of the world from the early 20th century on. Some of the problems are depicted including a "seizure" and attempted rescue, even providing a snack to a really large shark? It was a tough life in short.

With heavy harvesting there was harmful resource depletion explored in depth along with the social conflict at: and then a pervasive blight which brought the collapse of the industry in Florida, the Bahamas.

The Ettman Company had some problems independent of this with a suit brought by the Federal Trade Commission for the sale of "adulterated" sponges, who knew? I found the graphic in the Library of Congress.
FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi

Last edited by RickI; 05-10-2018 at 02:04 PM.
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