Spongeorama: Diver's Nightmare
Tarpon Springs, Florida
A few feet from the "Sponge Diver's Dream" display in the Spongeorama Museum is a diorama we call Sponge Diver's Nightmare. A diver, ascending too rapidly with a prized sponge (probably the "Cadillac of Sponges" praised in the museum's introductory video), has died of the bends. Next to his body, a decorative sign states the obvious -- sponging is dangerous -- and attributes it to Newsweek.
We marvel at this exhibit each time we visit Spongeorama. Its cloudy protective glass seems deliberate, as if conjuring the murky terror of underwater sponge hunting. And the rubber suit of the diver is covered with a cancerous rot, like lizard skin, that radiates from his crotch. A nightmare for the diver -- but always grimly rewarding for the tourists.