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Shipwreck Confirmed as 400-Year-Old Spanish Treasure Trove
April 8, 2013

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The ruins of a ship 1,300 feet below the sea near the Florida Keys have been identified as a long-lost Spanish ship sunk 400 years ago.

A hurricane battered the Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario and 27 other Spanish merchant vessels on Sep. 5, 1622. Twenty of the ships made it out of the storm. Eight ships sank, taking with them 500 people and a huge amount of treasure. The ships were part of the Tierra Firme fleet, sailing from Venezuela to Spain; and the valuables lost were intended to prop up a Spanish economy faltering under the weight of several costly exploration missions and even more costly wars.

So far, deep-sea divers have recovered 17,000 objects, including 39 gold bars, 1,200 silver pieces of eight, and several thousand pearls. The 117-ton Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario was particularly laden with valuables, including the first known shipwreck-borne remains of a blue-headed parrot.

Shrimp fishermen found the wreck in 1965, but technology to recover safely anything at that depth has only recently been given the green light.

Many items retrieved from the wreckage are on display as part of a new exhibit by the Odyssey Marine Exploration, based in Florida.

An online display accompanies the three-dimensional presentation.


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