Gold Coins Florida: $250K Treasure Found Just 100 Feet From Shoreline

By iScienceTimes Staff on July 15, 2013 5:09 PM EDT

gold coins
48 gold coins found in Florida on Saturday are from the 1715 shipwreck of 11 Spanish galleons, vessels that were en route to Havana, Cuba, with a store of treasure aboard. (Photo: Reuters)

A marine salvage company hit the motherlode on Saturday, when they turned up 48 300-year-old gold coins in Florida, worth between $200,000 and $250,000.

"Eleven Spanish galleons, loaded with treasure, were sunk along the coastline out here by a hurricane (in 1715)," said Brent Brisben, owner of 1715 Treasure Fleet Queen's Jewels, the salvage company that found the gold coins. "That's what gives us the [name] Treasure Coast."

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The gold coins were discovered off of the coast of Wabasso Beach, a town in central Florida. The gold coins, called escudos, were part of the treasure from a fleet of 11 Spanish galleons which were felled by a hurricane on July 31, 1715. The Spanish galleons carrying the gold coins were en route to Havana, Cuba, when the hurricane wrecked them. 

The gold coins are in good condition, with legible dates on them. The oldest of the gold coins is from 1697, and the newest gold coin is from 1714. 

Brisben's salvage company operates from dawn until after sundown, but only during summer months, when the water is calm. While treasure hunting is seen as a romantic pursuit, it's difficult work, says 1715 Treasure Fleet captain Greg Bounds, whose crew found the gold coins.

"From getting on the boat and getting ready, it's hard work," said Bounds. "We're out there all day, pulling ropes and diving and lifting anchors. It's the hardest job I've ever had in my life."

"You do out every day," added Bounds, "hoping that it's gonna happen, and a lot of times it doesn't. But when it does, it's just amazing."

Surprisingly, on the day that Bounds and his crew found the gold coins, they were just 100 feet from the shoreline and in six feet of water.  

Brisben's company has exclusive salvage rights to the 11 Spanish galleons shipwrecked off the Treasure Coast, but his company must give the state of Florida 20 percent of what they find.

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