There are not too many people who haven’t, at one time or another, thought what it might be like to discover a sunken Spanish galleon loaded with pieces of eight and gold doubloons. Although many of the Spanish shipwrecks have been discovered and salvaged, the amount of treasure that remains underwater is mind-boggling and the search goes on.
In ancient times, diving bells were used to recover sunken treasure from shallow water wrecks; with the ‘divers’ working one breath at a time. With the advent of scuba, the underwater world was opened up to the masses and allowed anyone with the desire and persistence to search for the underwater bounty.
One of the richest finds in modern times was made by Mel Fisher and his company, Treasure Salvors Inc. off the coast of Florida in 1985. Old Mel was the poster boy for ‘hang’n in there’ as it took 16 years of searching to discover the resting place of the Spanish galleon, Nuestra Senora de Atocha. Fisher recovered the $450 million dollar mother load of gold, silver and emeralds from the 1622 wreck.
This type of treasure hunting is not for the weak of heart or the under funded as it can take years of monotonous research of Spanish archives and millions of dollars without any guarantee of success. With the use of underwater metal detectors, any diver can search for their own treasures and there are many finds of coins and artifacts off beaches and in lake and rivers.