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Elephant ears

It is considered to be the most resistant out of all the sponge species. Its origin is the Mediterranean Sea (the Aegean Sea and the North Coast of Africa). The best quality elephant ears are fished in South Italy.

Its appearance is similar to Silk, but it is thinner.

Due to its durability, it is mainly used for industrial use, abrasion and cleaning of surfaces like leather, glass, porcelain, pottery etc. Most of these sponges are perfectly rounded, by nature, and look like funnels or hats and consequently are used as decorative elements.

Most of the buyers prefer it in its natural brown color.

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Honeycomb

This is the most popular sponge type. Its origin is the Mediterranean Sea (the Aegean Sea and the North Coast of Africa).

Its size varies from 3 to about 13 inches and can be found in two types.

- Forms. They have their natural, perfectly round shape (as fished)

- Cuts. Sponges that have been created from carving larger sponges.

They can be found either at their natural colour (brown) or bleached, depending on your choice.

It is mainly used by adults and children for bathing. It is extremely skin-friendly, does not cause allergies and, apart from being used for skin cleaning, it also removes dead cells. Many people also use it for general cleaning, because it soaks up large quantity of water and cleans at the same time itself, by shedding soap suds and dirt, without the need of much water (like synthetic sponges do). Also, it can be used for painting surfaces (e.g. wooden surfaces, walls). Its cellular surface creates harmonic and artistic shapes.

 

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C) Sponge Diving - The trip

The trip had begun. No much time for rest and sleep, the responsibilities had been assigned. Each man was necessary; the cook, the washer, the diver and the rest of the crew.

The ships usually sailed in fleets. In any fleet, one could find many small sponge boats, which carried the men responsible for sponge fishing. In each group, there was a cargo ship, which carried the sponges, the food and other essentials.

The diving techniques have evolved during the last decades. At first, a small glass boat glass was searching for sponges on the sea ground. Once sponges were spotted, the diver, got prepared to dive. He dove naked (“skin diving”), having in his hands a big stone (called “Skandalopetra” or “revera”) that helped him reach the sea ground. He didn’t have much time underwater. When he sensed that the oxygen in his lungs was running out, he had to emerge. 

This method wasn’t very effective, so it was replaced by another one, where the diver started carrying with him an air tube, through which he could breathe (called “fernez” method). He also held a rope that he used to make signals to the ship when something went wrong. A man on the ship was responsible for the supervision of this tube. The boat followed the direction of the diver. 

As the years passed by, sponge diving methods got improved. On some boats, the divers started wearing a diving suit, with a helmet (“skafandro”).

The basic problem with the previous two methods was that, because of the fact that the diver had to stay long underwater, nitrogen accumulated in his body. If he emerged too fast, the nitrogen stayed in his blood and created clots (so called decompression sickness). As a consequence, the diver suffered unbearable pain and numbness, leading to a temporary or even permanent paralysis or death. This led to the loss of many sponge divers, who were buried in beaches close to the place of work or carried home and buried by their families. This phenomenon also gave birth to a dance called “the dance of the mechanic”, dedicated to all these lost people.

Today, sponge divers dive using either “revera free diving” or “nargile” (a compressor on the boat continuously supplies them with oxygen).

 

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