Michael Gonatos was one of south floridas well-known sponge divers.
Born of Greek parents in the city of Tarpon Springs, Florida,
attended the local Greek and American
this community and the University
of Florida. He became active in sports and a became
nationally known heavyweight boxer. He also mastered the diver’s
suit and worked up to being one of the Greatest Sponge Diver’s in
the world. It was during his diving career that he photographed the
famous motion picture "The Story of the Sponge" shown daily
at his establishment. Gonatos
also had small roles in five films including 16 Fathoms Deep, about
the Tarpon Springs sponge divers. When a devastating fungus nearly
wiped out the sponge industry, Gonatos helped fight to preserve the
historic docks and other reminders of Tarpon Springs’ unique
history. He has posed for MGM, Fox and Paramount
companies and also appeared on CBS broadcast, coast to coast, giving
some of his experiences as a sponge diver.
Gonatos followed closely in his fathers foot steps. He was dedicated
to saving the sponge in Florida. His movie made such an impact, it
led other to want to help in preserving the dying off sponge in
myself am glad I had this opportunity to learn about this important
figure in south Florida. He left a great impact in helping the
community to save the sponge. His legacy will be remember through his
film and his experienced diving abilities.