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Excerpt from National Geographic.

For more than 50 years, Antonis Kampourakis woke at dawn, strapped on fins and a mask, and dived deep into the Aegean Sea. His aim? To harvest the valuable sea sponges that sustained the Greek island of Kalymnos for centuries.

He’s just one of the many locals who have ties to this traditional work, which was often passed down in families through generations. When a catastrophic disease began decimating the sea sponges in 1986, the islanders’ main source of income also plummeted.

But then a new focus emerged, one that looks to the island’s landscape—its steep cliffs, stalactite caves, fine limestone crags, and breathtaking sea views from the top.

Now the barren yet picturesque island is one of the world’s top spots for sport climbing, a type of rock climbing in which the routes are fixed with permanent anchors. The activity is helping to revitalise the local economy, drawing both amateur and expert adventurers, and is gaining global attention this year as a new Olympic event.

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