The Atocha Shipwreck Treasure of Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
Underwater for over 350 years, the remains of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Santa Margarita lay waiting for an eager treasure hunter to discover them. Such a diver would prove to be Mel Fisher, famous for his stubborn optimism as he spent most of his life searching for shipwrecks off the coast of Florida. The collection at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West features nearly 100,000 artifacts, such as gold coins, silver, cannons, and instruments from a number of sites in the area, including a horde of contraband emeralds with an impressive 77.76 carat uncut crystal.
Continue the diving tradition of Mel Fisher with his family, as his son organizes seasonal dives to the famous Atocha shipwreck in the waters of the Florida Keys. After a few days of training, you can find and take home up to $3,000 worth of treasure!
The most famous exhibits at the Mel Fisher Museum are the Henrietta Marie, and the 1622 Fleet, featuring the treasured Atocha. Providing a unique glimpse into the world of slave trading, the English Henrietta Marie sank in 1700, 35 miles from Key West. Artifacts onboard include shackles, cannons, beads, ivory, and tankards. The Spanish Atocha wreckage carried different bounty, such as bronze cannons, emeralds, and bars of silver and gold.
Born to a chicken farmer in Indiana, the ocean always beckoned Mel Fisher. Eventually he moved to California, where he opened the state's first dive shop, before turning to treasure hunting off the Florida coast. He's best known for discovering the $450 million “Atocha Motherload.”
Officially named the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, the Atocha was part of a 28-ship Spanish fleet, of which 8 sank in September of 1622. Bound for Spain from Cuba, the ill-fated vessels encountered a hurricane, loaded with tons of treasure from all over the Americas.