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Florida Maritime Museum



Members of the phylum Porifera, sponges are aquatic, invertebrate animals that live in the sea. They do not have organs or tissues, instead relying on the flow of water through their bodies for food, oxygen, and waste removal.

Sponges are prized for bath and body use because of their soft texture, high absorbency, and durability. Natural sponges are hypo-allergenic and toxin free. Sponges harvested from the sea naturally wash out organic material and bacteria, making them more sanitary than synthetic sponges. 

In Florida, sponge fishing began in the mid-19th century in the Florida Keys. Most sponges were harvested in the Keys until the discovery of commercial sponges in the northern Gulf of Mexico towards the end of the century. The industry took off in the early 1900s, particularly in Tarpon Springs, now known as the “Sponge Capital of the World”.

This exhibit can be viewed until March 31, 2023 at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, John F. Germany branch at 900 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa, Florida 33602.

Organizations interested in hosting Chart Your Course as a traveling exhibit at their site may contact or call 941-708-6120.