The well-documented Spanish shipwreck off of Florida's Atlantic coast in 1715 is continuing to yield treasure to those who seek it on the 300th anniversary of the 1715 fleet.
While the sunken treasure has long been known of, leading to a lengthy battle in court over who had the rights to explore the site of the three-century-old wreckage, it is fitting that the most exciting discoveries it has yielded thus far are just in time to remind everyone of the tricentennial being celebrated in 2015.
The Queens Jewels salvage company, owned by Brent Brisben, holds the rights to the recovery site, leasing out access to search the site to subcontractors. Mr. Brisben even admitted, "I truly now believe that there is an energy that pervades these shipwrecks, that I can't quantify. I truly believe that these shipwrecks wanted their story to continue, that this magically happened on this anniversary because this story still needs to be told and it's currently unfolding."
Most Valuable Gold Coins Yet
Earlier this summer, the 1715 treasure fleet made headlines when a treasure hunter discovered a haul of gold coins that totaled $1 million in value. The latest find, which was recovered by a three-man team, produced an even more fantastic cache of Spanish gold coins, this time worth $4.5 million. It stands as the most lucrative treasure recovery from the 1715 fleet site since exploration projects began in earnest a few decades ago. In total, the $4.5-million figure touted all across headlines since the story broke represents the combined value of some 350 gold coins.
One detail that's sure to make coin collectors and treasure hunters alike groan in envy is that relative ease with which the coins were found. The group's diver was essentially snorkeling in what appeared to be about 6-foot-deep waters when, one after another, the gleaming gold coins kept showing up just beneath the sand. They could merely be scooped up by hand.
More "Treasure Coast" Finds Expected
A portion of Florida's east coast that stretches from Palm Beach County north toward the Indian River is known as the "Treasure Coast," a term popularized during the 1960s to differentiate the region from the "Gold Coast" of Miami-Dade County. Fittingly, the nickname derives specifically from the wreck of the 1715 fleet, which deposited fantastic amounts of bullion and other treasures along the Atlantic coast. Even after the pair of million-dollar finds this summer, it is estimated that another $400 million worth of sunken treasure along the Treasure Coast that has yet to be recovered.
The sinking of the 1715 Spanish fleet, which claimed 11 of the 12 ships in the fleet, was caused by a hurricane not far from Cuba. This same scenario played out periodically throughout the 1700s and 1800s; famously, the sinking of the S.S. Central America due to an Atlantic hurricane in 1857 caused the "Panic of '57" because of the massive amounts of bullion on-board the sunken ship. In addition to the various Spanish gold coins being recovered, the 1715 fleet also held significant amounts of silver.
As more discoveries from this 3-century-old treasure fleet surface (no pun intended), it will not only enrich those who find the treasures, but also enrich our understanding of important parts of history that have since vanished beneath the mysterious ocean.