on August 20, 2006
We both remember watching the news coverage in 1985 when Mel Fisher made his great discovery in the Florida Straits. He and his crew literally vacuumed up sunken treasure from the lost ship, Atocha. The first discovery of the “main pile” of treasure included 1,041 silver bars; boxes of coins 3,000 to a box; 65 pounds of gold; gold and silver artifacts; and almost 3,000 Colombian emeralds. There was considerable controversy over the State of Florida’s claims on the historic salvage. We had seen jewelry for sale made from coins from the Atocha. Today we got to see a lot more of the loot. In a substantial building near Mallory Square we toured a good museum in too, short a period of time. We arrived within a half hour of closing. The museum showed us there were more Fisher finds that the Atocha. Earlier he had found a slaver ship and another of the 1622 galleons, the Santa Margarita. Artifacts such as cannons, manacles, and other metal objects that survived life at the bottom of the sea were on display. One room was devoted to the colorful life of the Fishers, highs, lows, tragedies and successes. In one display case we could insert a hand and lift a gold bar…that’s heavy. I was particularly impressed with the filigree work on the fine jewelry, chalices, and other ornate artifacts that survived that long in the ocean. We had to hurry and only made a perfunctory tour of the gift shop before the huge heavy doors were closed and barred.
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