Sponge Auction Hook Boats Tarpon Springs FL


Sponge Auction Tarpon Springs FL

  • The history of sponge fishing in America begins, almost coincidentally, back in the early 19th century. A small sponge industry began with the settlement of Key West. Native Key West fishermen found sponges washed on the shores after storms. These sponges became the reason for the formation of a small fleet of “Hook Boats”.
  • They were called this because they used a log pole with a three or four –pronged rake on the end to hook the sponges (hooking method) from shallow waters. These sponges were used only for local domestic use until the year 1849 when a sample shipment of sponges was sent to New York and found a ready market. Immediate expansion of the sponge industry began and, by 1890, Key West held almost an absolute monopoly of the sponge trade in the United States. The sponge fleet of Key West contains at that time 350 vessels. More than 1400 men where employed in the sponge industry. Nearly all of the sponges were collected from shallow water.
  • At the end of the 19th century the sponge fishing industry, and later sponge diving industry, was established due to John Corcosis and John Cheyney. Corcosis, a born Greek, came to New York in 1895 to work in the sponge trade. There he met John Cheyney, one of the early settlers in Tarpon Springs who sent out the first “hooker boat” from Tarpon Springs.

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