Sponge Diving Legal in Panhandle

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One day soon the natural sponges you bathe with could come from your own backyard.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission just voted to expand sponge diving along the coast of the Big Bend.

This means sponge harvesters could dock their boats in Apalachicola and actually offload their product in the heart of downtown.

A nearby antique shop says it'll sell those sponges in the same building that was once the original natural sponge exchange built in 1836.

"It's one more thing that validates us as an authentic fishing village. This has been going on for hundreds of years and its nice to have that come back. There's a rich history here for fishing and harvesting from the sea," said Apalachicola Resident Joe Taylor.

The rule which goes into effect July 1st also requires sponges to be cut rather than ripped so sponges will have a better chance of growing back.