The underwater world is full of endless mesmerizing scenes. Some chose to enjoy reef diving, others prefer diving shipwrecks and some spent years looking for hidden precious treasures. In this article, I have put together a list of 5 amazing treasures that have been found underwater.
The shipwreck of San Jose has been located. But its precious cargo has not been recovered yet because of many legal issues. The wreck was first located by a private company, the Sea Search Armada (SSA) in 1981 off the Columbian coasts.
They had an agreement with the Columbian government to split the treasure in half. The Columbian authorities passed a law claiming the ownership of the whole treasure soon after SSA shared its location with them.
Experts estimated that the cargo of San Jose is worth at least a few billion dollars. These estimates are bases on San Jose’s sister ship, the San Joaquin. They are nearly identical. The two ships were loaded with tons of silver and gold. In addition to that, the ship’s paperwork remained intact, which helped underwater archaeologists know more about San Jose’s cargo.
Senora de Atocha
Senora de Atocha was declared by the Guinness World Record as the most valuable shipwreck in the world in 2014. It was discovered in 1985 near the Florida coast. The Ship sank because of a hurricane in 1622 with its cargo of at least 40 tons of gold and silver in addition to 70 pounds of emeralds. The value of this cargo is estimated to be around 400 million dollars.
Discovering such a fortune wasn’t an easy task. Mel Fisher, the treasure hunter behind this discovery, started his quest in 1969. He only found it 16 years later. This operation was also dangerous. Three members of his crew (one of them is his son) lost their lives during this expedition.
Senora de Las Mercedes
Senora de Las Mercedes is a Spanish frigate that sank near the coast of Portugal in 1804 during a battle with the English navy. In 2007, An American company located the shipwreck and they recovered 17 tons of silver and gold. The precious cargo was shipped to the US and stored in secret warehouses. The operation was supposed to be secret and it was codenamed Black Swan Project.
However, Spanish researches knew about it and they started a legal battle to end what they considered looting and get the treasure back. Some of the relics are now displayed at the Spanish Naval Museum.
SS Gairsoppa is a British steamship that was sunk by a German U-boat during WW2. It was loaded with silver intended for the royal mint. In 2010, The UK Government signed a contract with Odyssey Marine Exploration to salvage this precious cargo. After two months, the private company located the wreck. It was 15,000 feet deep and 300 miles away from the coasts of Ireland.
Remotely operated vehicles were used to recover 99% of the missing silver. In July 2012, the first batch, 48 tons, was salvaged. They later recovered 61 tons of silver from the shipwreck. It is one of the largest deep-sea operations and it was documented by the Discovery channel.
SS Central America
The SS Central America was carrying 14 tons of gold that is why it is known as the Ship of Gold. The side-wheel steamer was struck by a hurricane in 1857, which shredded its sails and destroyed its boiler. It eventually sank a few hours later. The loss of this large quantity of gold contributed to the financial panic of 1857.
The shipwreck was first located in the late eighties by Columbus-America Discovery Group. Recovery operations started in 1988. The group managed to recover 100 million dollars’ worth of gold. One of the pieces, a gold ingot that weighs 80 pounds, was sold for $ 8 million. In 2014, another company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, excavated the site. They managed to recover more than 15,000 gold and silver coins in addition to 45 gold bars.
About the author
Alex Lemaire is passionate about inland and underwater treasure hunting. He published several articles about this topic on his blog. He believes that this hobby is an amazing way to learn more about the history of humanity.