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0705-G1/Y1/MSN1

Florida Keys Treasure
For 300 years, Spanish treasure fleets sailed the waters along the length of the Keys. Gold, silver, precious stones and other booty was transported to Spain in convoys called Plate Fleets.
It was not uncommon to have random sinkings and strandings along Keys Reefs due to weather and seamanship, but several of these big 20+ ship Plate Fleets hit hurricanes and suffered  staggering losses in ships, men and treasure.
The Spanish were pretty good at salvaging ships in shallow water and recovered the biggest part of the treasure when they could, what they missed is the stuff dreams are made of.

From the first, local Caloosa Indians recovered salvage on the beaches and accessible wrecks and enslaved the survivors. What they did with the precious stones, gold and silver is up to speculation - it could be right under where your car is parked in a local motel lot. Pirates soon followed the fleets and some of them were reportedly based in the Keys or may have buried some loot here (the ground is rock, not an easy task).  In the early to mid 1800's, a new breed of pirate hit the Keys - Salvors- (these guys are still here). They lured ships on the reefs and grabbed everything they could when they could. The government finally got off the dime and put up some lighthouse and other aids to navigation,  patrols and regulation - the trade started to taper off.

Florida law now greatly restricts sites from plunder and exploration. It took Mel Fisher years to get the State of Florida off his back so he could take advantage of his discovery of the Nuestra Senor de la Atocha. Present day divers still may explore in unprotected areas but are expected not to disturb or take anything. Most of the heavy metals are sunk under the sand or encrusted unrecognizably in marine life although a few coins are discovered on the beaches from time to time. Mostly, the only things turning up on our local beaches lately is a new form of treasure called "square tuna" (as in drugs, tightly wrapped in plastic) or Cuban refugees (smuggling refugees is also a big business).

Middle Keys Scuba Center


A Marathon local dive shop has several picture pages of treasure and other objects recovered right off Marathon. Click here for the web page

Sept 2002 article on emerald recovered off Marquesas

He found the mother lode
Mel Fisher's Site
 

The tourist IS the treasure