Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sea Sponges in Tarpon Springs

There's nothing better than using a natural sea sponge to smooth and wipe clay. So when my wood turning friend, Chad, mentioned the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs, I just had to go. Since my sea sponge is just slightly worn after six years of continuous use, I thought I might get a couple more just in case.

Tarpon Springs is a quaint fishing village on a bayous leading to the gulf of Mexico north of Tampa. Back in the 1880s Greek immigrants settled the area because of the abundant sponge beds in the areas.

There are lots of restaurants with authentic Greek food, bakeries, fresh fish markets, shell shops, clothing shops, cruise and diving tours, an aquarium, and, of course, all kinds of sea sponges. There was even live music on several patios and street corners. And just look at all those sponges on the boat and in the shops. I bought my sponges and a few shells from shop owner Harry Klimis of Tarpon Sponge.

Here are some modern Greek ceramic pots I spotted in a window. The store was closing otherwise I would have gone in to look at them more closely.

Thankfully many places in Florida will probably not be affected by the gulf oil spill and this location is one of them. While I was visiting Tarpon Springs today, I couldn't help but think about the devastation the gulf oil spill has and is continuing to create in so many other areas; plants, animals, and people are suffering. Many times It's difficult to find items made locally, but I think purchasing items produced in local economies reduces the need for oil consumption since those items don't have to be shipped across an ocean or trucked across the country.

I recently visited the president of the local wood turning society. I'll do a post about that visit with lots of photos real soon. But first Gary will post about the next episode of the Treasure Bus adventures. Comments and suggestions are welcome.


  1. glad to hear that gary's treasure bus trip went well... can't wait to read his post!
    i agree with you that there is nothing like a natural sponge. i have some oldies that are falling apart. i can't use them anymore but i can't part with them either!

  2. Such a great post Linda, I love boats and places near the sea. We do get small bits of sea sponge washed up on the beach here, but I have never seen anything like the quantities of it that you have in your photos. Those baskets of sponge for sale look very enticing!

    Interesting to look at the Greek pots and to see the traditional looking designs rendered in brighter modern colours. The forms looked a little odd to me....., but that is progress or something!

    Is the beautiful flower a hibiscus?

    So sad about the gulf oil spill. We hear a lot about it here in the news.

    Best Wishes to you and to Gary from us in NZ

  3. We used to live in Tampa (before I was a potter) and visited Tarpon Springs many times. On vacation there a few years ago, we stopped and I bought lots of sponges. Didn't know how long it would be before I got back.

    Are you sure about TS not being affected by the spill? How far out do the boats have to go to harvest the sponges? It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that all sorts of marine life are dying without us knowing about it. It's a silent cry.

  4. Hi Michele, thanks, mine is stil holding up but getting thin the middle, these sponges are so soft, I just love them. I bought some at HD and they were crap.

    Hi Peter, thanks, for some reason I am drawn to the sea, my mother is Greek, perhaps that's the reason. This place was so special I know we will be going back again and again to experience all it has to offer. The pottery I am not sure it is hand made, there was something not quite "right" about it and Gary said, "I wonder if there is a label underneath that says "made in China". I would hope not but I will check it out next time we go.

    Hi Kari, thanks, Tarpon Springs posted that the oil would not affect them, they are a bit inland though I think everyone is going to be affected by the spill since it will indirectly affect the economy of the whole country. I am so affected by animals and plants suffering it is hard for me to read and see what is happening along the gulf coast in so many places. Fisherman, restaurants, motels, gift shops, so many people will be affected by this diseaster. Every resource available in this country should be put to the cleanup.

  5. Thank you for mentioning how important it is for people to shop locally and try to reduce oil consumption.
    I hope you are right about BP's oil mess not effecting Florida, I guess we won't know for sure until the well is capped or empty (whichever comes first). It hurts to see one of our greatest natural resources destroyed so needlessly.

  6. That's a whole lot of sponges! Wow - amazing photo.

    The gulf oil spill is tragic on so many levels - marine life, local ecosystems, economics...hard to quantify.

    The flower is so exotic - it does look like a hibiscus.

  7. Hi Lori, thanks, I read that info on the website for Tarpon Springs, but if there is a huricaine, then oil will be everywhere even inland, so very sad.

    Hi Cynthia, thanks, I too was amazed by all the sponges. The oil spill is indeed a terrible tragedy for so many reasons. Yes the flower is an hibiscus, I have never seen a pink one only red and yellow I think.

  8. Thanks for dropping by and introducing me to your blog. Keep up the good work.


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