USF Libraries | Special & Digital Collections | Exhibits

Oysters

Fishing has long sustained the American Indians and settlers who ventured into Florida’s warm climate. The Calusa, one of the fiercest and most advanced tribes the Spanish encountered in the Caribbean, had an extensive population in South Florida that subsisted almost entirely off the sea. Not until the Second Seminole War ended in the 1840s did white settlers leave the relative safety of the coasts and rivers to settle the interior of the state. Cuban fisherman used the coast as a base into the 1890s and the major cities in Florida at the turn of twentieth century all relied heavily on fishing as a source of revenue.  Shellfish such as shrimp and oysters have been perennial favorites of Floridians.