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View Full Version : Sponge divers, pearl divers. Men who had it really tough.



changeng
08-01-2014, 07:23 AM
http://www.lively-arts.com/travel/2001/sponge_divers04.jpg

changeng
08-01-2014, 07:30 AM
Subject more poignant than fishermen. Divers.
Men who lived and died in mainly poverty.
The Palikari.. the heros

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSJIVlwnM-vPEf7A6nKiAoMkfxUbmbbtvE4UszYyhNLbIOA5FwIog

changeng
08-01-2014, 07:31 AM
http://www.kislakfoundation.org/millennium/pics/bucuvalas/0100.jpg

changeng
08-01-2014, 07:43 AM
http://www.gokalymnos.com/en-gokalymnos/images/spogal3.jpg

Curtism
08-01-2014, 07:53 AM
Tarpon springs in pic #3 is a half hour up the coast from here and they still run a few boats from the Anclote river out into the Gulf for sponge diving, although they're probably more to sell to tourists than production these days. It's an old Greek community and there's a touristy strip along the docks that offers up some nice authentic Greek restaurants and bakeries. Mmm, haven't been up there in a while.

changeng
08-01-2014, 08:06 AM
This is a fabulous book if you can find a copy. I cant cut and paste but read from para 3 page 17 and you get the idea.
http://browseinside.harpercollins.com.au/index.aspx?isbn13=9780207169021

Paul Pless
08-01-2014, 08:08 AM
Tarpon springs in pic #3 is a half hour up the coast from here and they still run a few boats from the Anclote river out into the Gulf for sponge diving, although they're probably more to sell to tourists than production these days. It's an old Greek community and there's a touristy strip along the docks that offers up some nice authentic Greek restaurants and bakeries. Mmm, haven't been up there in a while.I started making trips with my family to Tarpon Springs to fish when I was about ten years old (circa 1980). I recall my dad pointing out sponge divers to me then.

changeng
08-01-2014, 08:12 AM
Yeah, mass exodus from Kalymnos in the 50's and 60's. Sponges running out, synthetics killed off a whole culture. If you ever go there , you'll still see young and old men in Illizaroff frames on their legs for the bends.

changeng
08-01-2014, 08:17 AM
These guys used to go out for months in winter diving off the coast of Africa, sometimes with no gear and just a stone to take them down, living off salt boiled goat and ships biscuits. the death toll was terrible. for a few sponges. 20 men on a 30' boat for 4 months.

changeng
08-01-2014, 08:19 AM
From Kalymnos, ships sailed the Aegean sea and the Medeterranean sea. They went as far as Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. They stayed out at sea for at least 6 months.
The profit on the sponges was high. For the divers the working circumstances were better than diving naked. However, there was a big danger in staying down deep for long times: decompression sickness. soon after the standard suit was introduced, the first casualties appeard. The symptoms, heavy pain, paralysis and eventually death must have been terrifying for divers and other crew because they did not have a clue what caused all this !
A combination of several dives a day to depths up to 70 meters and then coming up without decompression stops did not miss its devastating effect: in the first years the standard suit was used, about half of the divers got paralised or died of decompression sickness. In her book "Bitter Sea", Faith Warn discribes that between 1886 and 1910 about 10.000 divers died and 20.000 got pemanently disabled.


http://www.divingheritage.com/images/spongedivers4.jpg
Picture above for illustration purposes only,
picture actually from Tarpon Springs, Florida.



This was also of big influence on all the people on Kalymnos. Every family had fathers, sons, brothers or other relatives that were paralised or never returned from the sponge diving season. By the end of the 19th century this caused big anxiety on Kalymnos, especially among women. In those days Kalymnos was ocupied by the Turks. The women asked the Turkish sultan to forbid the standard diving suit, which he did in 1882. Profits dropped: the divers had to go "skin diving" again. About 4 years later the suit was back and so were the decompression accidents.



http://www.divingheritage.com/images/spongedivers5.jpg

http://www.divingheritage.com/greecekern2.htm

The Bigfella
08-01-2014, 08:03 PM
This is a fabulous book if you can find a copy. I cant cut and paste but read from para 3 page 17 and you get the idea.
http://browseinside.harpercollins.com.au/index.aspx?isbn13=9780207169021

Here.... I'm not sure which para 3 you mean, so have the whole page

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff112/igatenby/changclip_zps16f93736.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/igatenby/media/changclip_zps16f93736.jpg.html)

changeng
08-02-2014, 01:54 AM
Thanks

skuthorp
08-02-2014, 04:02 AM
The Pearl Diverby A. B. (The Banjo) Paterson (http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/paterson-a-b-banjo)
From book: Rio Grande's Last Race and Other Verses (http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poems-book/rio-grande-s-last-race-and-other-verses-0004000)[ Previous (http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/paterson-a-b-banjo/mulga-bill-s-bicycle-0004005)| Next (http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/paterson-a-b-banjo/the-city-of-dreadful-thirst-0004007)]

http://auspoetry-production.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/35/transparency_original_original.gif
Kanzo Makame, the diver, sturdy and small Japanee,
Seeker of pearls and of pearl-shell down in the depths of the sea,
Trudged o'er the bed of the ocean, searching industriously.

Over the pearl-grounds, the lugger drifted — a little white speck:
Joe Nagasaki, the ‘tender’, holding the life-line on deck,
Talked through the rope to the diver, knew when to drift or to check.

Kanzo was king of his lugger, master and diver in one,
Diving wherever it pleased him, taking instructions from none;
Hither and thither he wandered, steering by stars and by sun.

Fearless he was beyond credence, looking at death eye to eye:
This was his formula always, ‘All man go dead by-and-bye —
‘S'posing time come no can help it — s'pose time no come, then no die.’

Dived in the depths of the Darnleys, down twenty fathom and five;
Down where by law and by reason, men are forbidden to dive;
Down in a pressure so awful that only the strongest survive:

Sweated four men at the air pumps, fast as the handles could go,
Forcing the air down that reached him heated, and tainted, and slow —
Kanzo Makame the diver stayed seven minutes below;

Came up on deck like a dead man, paralysed body and brain;
Suffered, while blood was returning, infinite tortures of pain:
Sailed once again to the Darnleys — laughed and descended again!


*****Scarce grew the shell in the shallows, rarely a patch could they touch;
Always the take was so little, always the labour so much;
Always they thought of the Islands held by the lumbering Dutch,

Islands where shell was in plenty lying in passage and bay,
Islands where divers could gather hundreds of shell in a day:
But the lumbering Dutch, with their gunboats, hunted the divers away.

Joe Nagasaki, the ‘tender’, finding the profits grow small,
Said, ‘Let us go to the Islands, try for a number one haul!
‘If we get caught, go to prison — let them take lugger and all!’

Kanzo Makame, the diver — knowing full well what it meant —
Fatalist, gambler, and stoic, smiled a broad smile of content,
Flattened in mainsail and foresail, and off to the Islands they went.

Close to the headlands they drifted, picking up shell by the ton,
Piled up on deck were the oysters, opening wide in the sun,
When, from the lee of the headland, boomed the report of a gun.

Once that the diver was sighted pearl-shell and lugger must go.
Joe Nagasaki decided — quick was the word and the blow —
Cut both the pipe and the life-line, leaving the diver below!

Kanzo Makame, the diver, failing to quite understand,
Pulled the ‘haul up' on the life-line, found it was slack in his hand;
Then, like a little brown stoic, lay down and died on the sand.

Joe Nagasaki, the ‘tender’, smiling a sanctified smile,
Headed her straight for the gunboat — throwing out shells all the while —
Then went aboard and reported, ‘No makee dive in three mile!

‘Dress no have got and no helmet — diver go shore on the spree;
‘Plenty wind come and break rudder — lugger get blown out to sea:
‘Take me to Japanee Consul, he help a poor Japanee!’


*****So the Dutch let him go, and they watched him, as off from the Islands he ran,
Doubting him much, but what would you? You have to be sure of your man
Ere you wake up that nest-full of hornets — the little brown men of Japan.

Down in the ooze and the coral, down where earth's wonders are spread,
Helmeted, ghastly, and swollen, Kanzo Makame lies dead:
Joe Nagasaki, his ‘tender’, is owner and diver instead.

Wearer of pearls in your necklace, comfort yourself if you can,
These are the risks of the pearling — these are the ways of Japan,
‘Plenty more Japanee diver, plenty more little brown man!’

ccmanuals
08-02-2014, 07:48 AM
I started making trips with my family to Tarpon Springs to fish when I was about ten years old (circa 1980). I recall my dad pointing out sponge divers to me then.

My mother and sister live in Tarpon so I have spent a lot of time there over the years. It is actually the largest Greek community in the US.

Fascinating history as to how they ended up in Tarpon Springs. During the 1900's they were driven out of Key West by the Conch's which is referred to as the Conch Wars.