Atocha Shipwreck Yields Emerald Ring Worth $500,000

Posted on July 5, 2011

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The Nuestra Senora de Atocha, a famous Spanish shipwreck discovered in 1985, continues to yield new treasures.  Divers recovered two silver spoons and an emerald ring worth approximately US$500,000 from the seafloor where the galleon sank off the Florida Keys in 1622.  These newest treasures add to an already extraordinary trove recovered from the shipwreck and the surrounding seafloor.  Salvor Mel Ficher has already recovered “about 40 tons of gold and silver, some 114,000 silver and gold coins, Colombian emeralds, gold and silver artifacts, and about 1,000 silver bars.”  The treasure has been valued at approximately US$500 million.

The Nuestra Senora de Atocha was a part of a 28-ship convoy bringing treasures from the New World back to Spain.  On September 6, 1622, a hurricane drove the Atocha onto a coral reef near the Dry Tortugas, about 35 miles west of Key West.  There it lay until Mel Fisher and a team of sub-contractors discovered the wreck site in 1985.

In part due to the newest recoveries from the wreck site, employees of Mel Fisher think that they are close to locating the ship’s “sterncastle,” an important missing part of the ship.  “The sterncastle is where the clergy and elite were with their personal items,” stated Sean Fisher, spokesman for the family business and grandson of the late founder, Mel Fisher.

The wreck of the Atocha and its treasures has been subject to legal battles in the past.  The United States government and the State of Florida both claimed title to the wreck; Florida had seized many of the artifacts Fisher had retrieved.  After eight years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Fisher.

For more on the newest discovery from the Atocha, read Breathtaking treasure from Atocha shipwreck discovered or Atocha wreck: Divers recover $500,000 ring.

Thanks to Rachel Payne for contributing this post.

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