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Garden 223, John Michael Gonatos

Posted By Kamilah Williamson, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

John 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 schools in 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.

Mr. 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 Florida.

I 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.

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