Thanks to Diver Mag for this:
Underwater exploration is one of the most amazing activities on the planet. You can discover a whole new world that only a few people get to see and experience. Some of the explorers took their passion to the next level. They spent their life looking for forgotten underwater treasures. This article is about five deep sea explorers that struck gold.
Gregory is the founder of Odyssey Marine Exploration. He successfully recovered tons of gold and silver from various shipwrecks around the world using advanced machinery. He recovered 51,000 coins and 14,000 artifacts from the shipwreck of the SS Republic. He also recovered 48 tons of silver from the shipwreck of the British steam merchant ship SS Gairsoppa.
He located and salvaged many other shipwrecks making him one of the most successful deep sea explorers in the world. But he made one mistake. He secretly recovered 17 tons of gold and silver from a shipwreck that he code-named “black swan”. And he hid the treasure in secret locations in Florida. The Spanish government found out that black-swan was actually the Nuestra Senora De Las Mercedes, a Spanish frigate. So they started a legal battle to get the gold and silver back, which happened in 2013.
Edward Lee Spence
Dr. Edward Lee Spence is an underwater archeologist. He is the founder and former president of the International diving institute. Edward is behind the discovery of many shipwrecks. He discovered the Civil War blockade runner Georgiana in 1965 and the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley in 1970. It is the first sub to sink an enemy ship in history.
Although he said that money is only a byproduct and he is diving shipwrecks simply because he is passionate about it, he recovered $ 100 million worth of artifacts along his career. He thinks that discovering a shipwreck is exciting regardless of the value of its cargo. To him, the best discoveries are those that help to solve historical mysteries.
Mel Fisher discovered the shipwreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha in 1985. It was loaded with 40 tons of gold and silver and 70 pounds (31 Kg) of emeralds. In 2014, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized this discovery as the most valuable shipwreck in the world.
Getting there wasn’t easy. Mel Fisher spent 16 long years looking for the wreck. He lost family members and a diver after discovering one of the ship’s canons. And right after discovering the wreck, he had to deal with a legal battle against the state of Florida over the ownership of the wreck.
Brent W. Brisben
Brent is famous for salvaging $4.5 million dollars’ worth of artifacts on the 300th anniversary of the sinking of the 1715 treasure fleet. 12 Spanish ships were sailing from the new world to Spain. They were hit by a hurricane and sank off the coasts of Florida.
This underwater treasure is large. Brent has been recovering gold coins from this location since 2010. Some of the artifacts can be found as shallow as 6 feet. Getting to the site is easy but Brent owns the exclusive salvage rights. You can’t recover anything from there without his permission. However, if an artifact has been washed to the shore, it’s all yours. Jonah Martinez, an employee who worked for Brent, took advantage of that. He found a bunch of gold coins on the beach using a metal detector in 2020 and he kept him for himself.
Tommy made millions when he discovered the shipwreck of the SS Central America. It was loaded with around 13 tons of pure gold that came from California. This valuable cargo is estimated to be worth $550 million dollars in today’s money.
Tommy is a smart guy. He used the Bayesian search theory, which is a mathematical theory that has been used many times to search for lost shipwrecks. However, he wasn’t transparent. Many investors funded the recovery operation and they had an agreement to split the gold. He kept a portion of it to himself. He is now behind bars.