- from Buried Treasure
On September 4, 1622, the mighty Spanish ship Nuestra Señora de Atocha sailed out of Havana, Cuba.
It was headed for home. The sailors were very happy. They knew their king would be pleased with them. They were bringing valuable treasures back from Spain’s American colonies.
The Atocha was a galleon—a large, sturdy, heavily armed ship with several masts. It seemed invincible. However, after only two days at sea, a fierce hurricane struck. Slammed against reefs along the Florida Keys, the powerful ship was torn apart and quickly sank. Only 5 of the 265 people aboard survived, and a fortune in treasures was lost.
Centuries passed, and the Atocha stayed in its watery grave. Then, in the 1970s, came Mel Fisher and the scuba divers of his company, Treasure Salvors. They began searching the seas for the treasures of the Atocha. The story of the recovery highlights one of the most hotly debated issues in treasure-hunting history: Who has the right to salvage treasures of the sea and claim them as their own?