You don’t come up empty handed. You either get them or they get you!
It seems that the barren soil of the island together with the superb beauty of the depths of the Mediterranean have played a major role in molding the character of the Kalymnian people. They are endowed with a diversity that combines a marked bluntness with a certain nobility of the soul. These traits can be said to resemble the nature of the Sponge itself which is found at a wide variety of depths, ranging from a few centimeters to the depths of the abyss at 8500 meters. There are 5000 different species of Sponge and they can vary in colour, size and quality; some are smooth and velvety; others can be rough and hard.
The university of “Gabriele d’Annunzio” in Chietti, Italy, a contemporary and vibrant institution, suggested (1984) that a research centre for Hyperbaric Underwater Medicine should be established in Kalymnos. To support this idea, they wrote, “…what makes the island unique is the fact that the fishermen there have, for thousands of years, been diving for Sponges”. The point being that diving, whether by the old method of holding their breath or, as is done nowadays, by frogmen, diving has become second nature to them. As generation followed generation, they became divers and thus, both physically and mentally they became utterly familiar with the skill of diving. Therefore, Kalymnos would be a most fitting place to set up such an underwater organization such as was proposed. The Kalymnians would not only appreciate its purpose but they would also expand and improve its operation.
Today, however, things are quite different. Owing to a destructive disease which has devastated Sponge colonies all over the Mediterranean, the people of the island have been forced to turn to other kinds of fishing. Sponge boats have given way to vessels equipped to fish for Tuna and Swordfish, both of which are in demand.
Meanwhile, how has the society reacted to this enforced change? When they talked of Sponge diving, the saying was, “…you don’t come up empty handed. You either get them or they get you!”. So, what are they doing under these new circumstances?
A great many families have emigrated abroad. Others have turned to jobs on the land. However, one thing is certain. They are all waiting, patiently waiting, for the moment when the Sponge fleet will set sail again and for the time when, once again they will hear the bells of the church of St. Nicholas, their patron saint, peal for joy at the safe homecoming of the fathers, brothers and sons.
They are all quite sure that the Sponge will never disappear from the face of the Earth. It is just going through a storm. The sea is rough at the moment, but the storm will subside.
Short history & current facts on Sponge Diving from the official page of Kalymnos municipality.
Kalymnos Experience, puts you in touch with the best instructors available, in order to organize the best diving experience for you, whether you have zero diving knowledge, or you are professional.
You will experience the unique traditional sponge diver’s trail, the use of different diving equipment through the ages, leading up to the world famous diving suit “skafandro”. You will experience how the Kalymnians used to dive in the ancient years until the recent centuries, naked, using only their breath and a stone called “skandalopetra”, to reach the bottom of the seas. Following the “Fernez” method and equipment were adopted, finally leading to the well-known “skafandro”.
An astonishing experience, which you can either watch from the boat or be an active participant in and try it out for yourself!
Our diving team consist of very experienced divers, full of credentials. One of the most famous professionals in a national level, Dimitris Nistazos, is collaborating with the Kalymnos Experience, to offer you something you can find nowhere else!
The “skafandro” experience, or the sponge diver’s trail, is a voyage through local history, a challenge for a few lucky people. We invite you to be a part of this amazing activity!
Master diver & diving team ⦿ Full board ⦿ Transfers ⦿ Travel with a replica of the “achtarmas”, the traditional sponge diving caique complete with authentic equipment from the time ⦿ Captain ⦿ Crew ⦿ Boat(s) ⦿ Fuel ⦿ Filming your experience (drone, action cams) ⦿ Snorkeling equipment ⦿ Water / refreshments ⦿ Government taxes, local taxes 24%
❭ Maximum attendance 30 people.
❭ Schools, athletic clubs, scouts and any other association which has to do with children, seniors or volunteers, will get a 10% discount upon request.
❭ We reserve the right to subject the final schedule to necessary adjustments / changes upon early notice. Stay tuned.