Treasure-Hunting Family Strikes Gold Off Fla. Coast

Armada wrecked 300 years ago still giving up riches
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2015 8:50 AM CDT
Treasure-Hunting Family Strikes Gold Off Fla. Coast
A crewman looks for remnants of a ship believed to be part of the 1715 fleet off the Treasure Coast, Fla.    (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Spending your summers hunting for sunken treasure can be "monotonous" and "demoralizing," Eric Schmitt tells the Orlando Sentinel—but the monotony is sometimes broken by a dazzling find like the one unveiled this week. Schmitt found more than $1 million in treasure from the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet that sank off the coast of Florida during a hurricane 300 years ago this week, Reuters reports. The find about 150 feet off the aptly named "Treasure Coast" included 40 feet of gold chain and more than 50 coins, among them an incredibly rare "Tricentennial Royal," minted for Spain's King Phillip V, that is probably worth $500,000 on its own, WESH reports.

The find, like others Schmitt has made in the last few years, was made in around 15 feet of water, the Sentinel reports. Schmitt—who hunts for treasure from the vessel Aarrr Booty with his parents, his wife, and his sister—will split the haul with the state of Florida and the company 1715 Fleet—Queens Jewels LLC, which owns the rights to the wreckage, reports Reuters. The company's president tells Florida Today that the find was made last month but he decided to hold the news until the anniversary of the fleet's sinking was near, and the Schmitts have been "beside themselves" keeping it a secret. (Relics from an older Spanish armada have been washing ashore in Ireland.)

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