"Florida's Greek Fishing Village and Sponge Docks" Top 5 Page for this destination Tarpon Springs by atufft

Tarpon Springs Travel Guide: 65 reviews and 133 photos

Part Resort, Part Sponge Docks

Tarpon Springs was named by Mary Ormond, who, with her father, was the first non-indigenous person to settle in the area, beginning in 1876. Mary named the area Tarpon Springs because of the abundance of fish that were available in the bayou. But, the early years of much of this part of west Florida was quickly subject to land speculation and development of beach resorts. However, in 1887, one promoter discovered the economic benefit in harvesting the naturally occurring sponges. Greek immigrant divers were brought in, the industry expanded to some 500 divers and 50 boats by 1905, and so for thirty years thereafter Tarpon Springs was not only the "Sponge Capital of the World", but Florida's largest industry--even larger than tourism or citrus farming. In 1947 at red tide algae bloom nearly wiped out the entire industry. But, the Greek fishing village continued to thrive as tourists arrived to shop and eat. Today, most of the sponges sold in Tarpon Springs are imported, but there is a concerted effort to revive the sponge beds into an active industry again. There are two active commercial sponge fishing vessels, as I had a chance during my visit to talk with the owner of one of them. In addition to the sponge docks, there is an active Greek community and the really great county beach side park--Fred H Howard Park.

  • Last visit to Tarpon Springs: May 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (22)

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  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo
    Jun 9, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Hey Alan, nice page on a unique little town. When I get visitor's to Tampa, I like to take them up to see Tarpon Springs. Not quite what you'd expect in Florida.


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