Since the Age of Exploration, Florida coastline is known as the final resting place of many ships including the mighty Spanish Treasure Fleet.
Spain’s exploration of the Americas was largely driven by the desire to find gold and silver. These precious metals mined in the New World were very important to Spanish economy, since Spain had virtually no industry of her own and had to buy manufactured goods from other European nations. Spain’s colony in the Americas, known as New Spain, became the world’s largest sources of gold and silver.
To make sure her ships carrying American gold and silver make their way into Spanish ports, Spain established the Treasure Fleet system. Heavily armed frigates were assigned to protect Spanish ships from pirates and privateers employed by other colonial powers including France, England and the Netherlands. The Treasure Fleet system reached its height in the late 16th century. During this period, about 16 million pesos’ worth of precious metals were brought to Spain from the New World mines each year.
Once a part of the vast Spanish colonial empire, Florida has witnessed the rise and fall of the Treasure Fleet system. On July 31, 1715, 11 Spanish ships, filled with gold, encountered a hurricane off Florida’s central coast on its way to Spain from Havana. Wind and waves wrecked the ship one after another, claiming more than 700 lives. This is by far the worst maritime disaster in Florida’s history, but also left a treasure trove that kept giving gold to treasure hunters in the past 300 years.
Will these divers be lucky enough to claim any Spanish gold down there? Watch the video to find out.