Key West History:
"The Key West Hooker Chronicles"
huh?? well, we have some of those tales of what you thought but.... let's say that Sponge Bob Square Pants of today's 21st century cartoon icon would live probably in the sponge beds of the Florida Keys, at least we think that's most likely where is his colorful world. His biggest threat then would be the same one as his other spongy ancestors of being captured by Key West spongers-known as "Hookers".
Ha ha gotcha on that one.
Sponges are multi-celled, low-order animals that fasten themselves to the ocean floor in colonies and remain there throughout their life cycles unless forcefully removed. Their unique water filtering system is what made them an attractive item of absorbency.
Sometimes, we find them on the beaches down here in the Keys. We think of them as baskets for shells we gather but they have been a vibrant industry in the many years that fishermen have been in the Florida Keys. Recently, we saw a young man bring in a boat load of sponges, most likely selling his wares to the Key West Aloe Company or local gift shops. It made us think about the original sponge hooker.
However, the beginning of the sponger industry goes back to 1848. While sailing the waters of the Florida Keys in the spring of 1848, Bahamian wrecker William Kemp happened upon a very large and prolific sponge bed. He gathered up a boat load and headed for Key West, where he tried to sell them but to no avail. Kemp judged the sponges to be as good s those imported from the Mediterranean. Dauntless, he gambled his future hunch and listened to his instincts by taking a ship load of Key West sponges to New York City. His hunch paid off handsomely. Finding an instant market for the sponges, Kemp sold them all and returned to Key West with a pocketful of contracts from New York. Publicly he announced that he would pay 10 cents per pound for all sponges brought to port, William Kemp single-handled gave birth to the Key West Sponge Industry.
So the next time you watch Sponge Bob with your kids, tell them that their spongy friend most likely lives somewhere in the Florida Keys and bring the kids on a family vacation where you can look for those sponge cousins when you go snorkeling with us! This summer all school age kids under 18 are free.
Call Captain Albert 9 am - 9 pm and design your vacation with us. 305 304 4911
Submitted for the Captain who is coordinating at sea adventures right now,
April 4, 2011
ARGH me mateys!
First Mate Ronda