When I first heard about this story, it stirred my inner child and all I wanted to do is go treasure hunting. Shipwreck divers off the coast of Florida found the flagship of a 1715 Spanish treasure fleet.
The ship was called the Capitana, and was part of a 1715 Spanish treasure fleet. The bounty that it was hauling was made up of 52 gold coins, 40 feet of gold chain, and 110 silver coins and buttons worth over one million dollars.
The Florida family that had made the discovery on June 17, led by Eric Schmitt, had kept it quiet until now to mark the 300-year anniversary of the fleet’s sinking. There were 11 ships that were part of Spain’s Tierra Firme and New Spain fleets. The vessels regularly transported gold, silver, and other precious resources from Spanish colonies to Europe.
“The Tierra Firme fleet serviced South and Central America,” Jennifer McKinnon, a maritime archaeologist at East Carolina University, said in an interview with National Geographic earlier this year. The fleet “was vital to the flow of materials back to Spain as well as provisioning the New World with Old World goods.”
The ships met their fate while on the way back to Spain, when they sailed past Florida and into a hurricane on July 30 and July 31 in 1715. The Schmitt family has been working under contract with 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels LLC, which is a Florida company that has exclusive rights to the wrecks.
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.
But this time they hit the mother load in just 15 feet (4.5 meters) of water, and only 1,000 feet (305 meters) off the coast of Fort Piece.
According to National Geographic: The day started out like any other, Schmitt says. But around 9 or 9:30 in the morning, a gold coin popped out of the sand he was clearing on the seafloor. The dive team started to shift more sand, and ended up recovering the treasure. “It was absolutely unreal,” says Schmitt. He called Brent Brisben, co-founder of 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels to check out their discovery. “I was blown away,” Brisben says. “I was literally shaking.”
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.
This coin would have been crafted to perfection and presented to the king, IFL Science wrote.
Because the ships fall under the jurisdiction of the United States district court of the southern district of Florida, representatives examine anything that is found each year. Under state law, the state is entitled to 20 percent of all findings. If there are any items that the state would like to transfer to museums, a request is submitted to the courts.