The sponge divers of Trikeri

Up until approximately 20 years ago, Trikeri people were occupied with sponge diving. Trikeri and Kalimnos were the leaders in this occupation. The fishing period started in April and lasted until September. Divers wearing diving suits (special respiratory suits) were fishing at a depth of about 30m and remained on the seabed for thirty minutes up to one hour.

A dangerous job since the sponge divers were exposed to the ferocious beasts of the sea, the sharks and hound fish, whilst the great pressure of the sea often paralysed their nether limbs, a condition also known as “the divers’ disease”.

The sponges that the divers “caught” were laid on the deck of the sponge vessel, so that the clamminess, what the sponge divers call “the milk of the sponge” would drain away. They then strung them together, leaving them in the sea for 10 hours after which they would wash them thoroughly and then let them dry at the central square of the village before heading off to the market. In current times, the pollution of the sea and the industrial production of artificial sponges have strangled the sponge diving profession.