A lot of shipwrecks have taken place in the past, and each shipwreck is known for its historical past and priceless artifacts.
Atocha shipwreck is one such shipwreck, it sunk in the water along with a fleet of other ships due to the impact of the hurricane that had hit the coast of Florida in 1622.
The Spanish treasure galleon was delayed in departure from Havana due to the loading of the treasure into it, which took 2 months. The ship had finally departed on 4th September from Havana, and it sadly sank on 6th September near Key West, Florida due to the hurricane.
Due to the Atocha being wrecked, there was a loss of 256 lives which included the crew and passengers. Along with the Atocha, the Santa Margarita also sank, causing heavy blow on the Spanish treasury.
The salvage and the treasure trove
After the sinking of the Atocha, five ships were sent for the salvage of the Atocha.
The Atocha had sunk approximately 17 meters or 55 feet deep inside the water, which it made difficult for the divers to rescue any kind of cargo from the ship. The salvage operations went on for a number of years, with the help of the Indian slaves.
The Spaniards were successful in recovering the registered treasure from the Santa margarita but all efforts of locating the Atocha went in vain.
Mel Fisher along with Finley Richard led the discovery of the Atocha shipwreck. In the start of 1969, the two treasure hunters and some other contractors went for a joint venture to search the sea for the Atocha and the venture went on for sixteen and a half years.
In the year 1985, finally the Atocha along with the silver, gold and other emeralds that were loaded was discovered.
The gold and silver coins that were salvaged from the Atocha were known to have been minted between the years 1598-1621.
Along with the gold and silver bars, coins and jewelry were also recovered.
In the Atocha treasure, there were also instruments for navigation accompanied with ceramic vessels belonging to the 17th century. The treasure was estimated to be around 400 million, which made fisher and the other millionaires. It was known that Mel Fisher alone had a net worth of $100 million.
Through the state of Florida claimed the wreck and asked fisher to give some percent of it to the state treasury but Mel Fisher fought against the state and after fighting for 8 years he was given the right on the found treasure of the Atocha.
A lot of valuable items still remained undiscovered but on the basis of the Atocha treasure that was recovered, this specific shipwreck has been named the most valuable in the Guinness book of world records, as it was carrying some 32 kg of emeralds and 40 tonnes of gold.
The Atocha treasure now
The Atocha treasure is now displayed in the Mel fisher maritime museum in Florida. Also some items from both the wrecked ships, the Atocha and the Santa Margarita, would be auctioned in New York.
Fisher passed away in 1998 but his efforts for the state of Florida cannot be forgotten.