This mural captures the rich marine life of Charlotte Harbor and area waterways, both past and present, which originally supported the natives in this area for thousands of years and brought travelers to these shores over the past five hundred years.
In the 1500’s the Spanish were seeking a new source of food having overfished the waters of the Caribbean. They found a rich and vast food source when they arrived in Charlotte Harbor in 1513 The Harbor teamed with marine life, as the estuary served as a breeding ground for vast varieties of fish.
The Spanish set up salt-fish ranchos (fish camps) on the islands in the harbor. Returning during the winter months to harvest, they would send the smoked fish back to their settlements in the Caribbean. These ranchos operated well into the1830’s providing commerce between the local natives and Cuba. With the arrival of the railroad in 1886, the area’s commercial fishing industry took off, utilizing now available rapid transportation and insulated boxcars to send fresh fish north.
Over the next 50-75 years the industry continued to expand catching record amounts of fish. Around this time, sport fishing also took off with the influx of the rich and famous trying their hand at hooking a mighty tarpon or harpooning a giant manta ray. Coupled with loss of habitat, these eventually lead to the depletion of the fishery and loss of the giants of our waters.
This mural reminds viewers of the species still in local waters but in much reduced numbers. Our hope is that it will not only provide a lesson in history but also inspire conservation of our fragile marine environment.
The mural was dedicated on June 20, 2019.