Beginnings and development
At the end of the 19th century, the first heavy diving equipment came to the island. By 1893, islanders hunted only with gaffe, i.e. at a depth of about 15 meters. In 1893, the cooperative in Krapanj got its first, and in 1896 its second diving apparatus. The Sponge Cooperative was founded in the same year. A conflict of interest between those who hunted with the gaffe and divers emerged. Before the Second World War and until the early 1960’s, there were fifteen to twenty diving teams in Krapanj. Each team had its own boat that numbered 7 to 8 members, of which two or three were divers.
Harvesting season for sponges began in early March and lasted until the end of September. The divers alternatively dived to a depth of 40 m and stayed under water for an hour. They were never together under water, because of manual pumping of air, and they went once a day to depths over 40 meters. From then until today, the people of Krapanj developed the harvesting of sponges and diving to perfection – especially the technique of diving.
Courage and experience
How did the Krapanj divers felt in diving suits with lead sole shoes, as they descended from the boat to the sea depths; their world was the dead sea silence, beating of the ear drums, a battle with the load, watching carefully the sea currents and looking death straight in the eyes.
Experience, physical fitness and great courage had always brought back the Krapanj divers to mysterious sea depths.
As he goes down to sea, to search for some missing ship, as he enters the ship, he expects there, in the darkness, in the water, to come across a man, a sailor, some navy cap or anything else that tells that a man was steering the ship… He goes down thinking that someone was struck by a tragedy at the moment of the sinking.