Shipwreck divers found an astonishing bounty of treasure aboard a shipwreck last month off the coast of Florida.
The Capitana, part of a 1715 Spanish treasure fleet, yielded over a million dollars’ worth of wealth in the form of 52 gold coins, 40 feet of gold chain and 110 silver coins and buttons.
Found on June 17, the impressive haul was kept under wraps by the diving team as led by Eric Schmitt, to be announced on the date of the 300-year anniversary of the fleet’s sinking off the Floridian coast.
There were 11 ships that formed part of Spain’s Tierra Firme and New Spain fleet, which would regularly transport gold, silver and other treasures from Spanish colonies to Europe.
Hit by a violent storm while passing Florida en route to Spain, the ships sank on July 30 and July 31 in 1715.
The treasure was a much unexpected catch for the diving team. “Typically we excavate empty holes and find beer cans,” Schmitt said to National Geographic.
Diving 305 meters (1,000 feet) off the coast of Fort Piece, Florida, in waters only 4.5 meters (15 feet) deep, the divers struck gold.
“It was absolutely unreal,” said Schmitt. The diver contacted Brent Brisben, co-founder of 1715 Treasure Fleet-Queens Jewels, a Florida-based conservation effort and archival resource for lost and found shipwrecks.
Schmitt’s find could be the biggest in “volume and rarity”, remarks Brisben. Among the gold coins, they found a highly sought-after rare coin called a Tricentennial Royal, which would have been crafted to perfection and presented to the king.
Where there’s gold, there could be even more gold. Schmitt and his diving team have continued to dive and search around the site of the shipwreck. However, they’ve only found more silver coins and buttons, and several candlesticks.
All of the artifacts, as they were found in Florida, are under the jurisdiction of the state. Florida will send representatives every year to examine any finds and make requests to the Court for anything that could be transferred to museums.
Brisben and the Schmitt family will split this incredible haul evenly, after the state takes its share.
[H/T: National Geographic]