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Largest underwater treasures that you didn’t know about…

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By Alex Lemaire

The underwater world has fascinated humans since antiquity. It is a mysterious world where we can find amazing beauty and experience unforgettable adventures. It is also full of shipwrecks that were loaded with precious treasures. In this article, I’ll share with you five of the largest underwater treasures ever discovered.

1715 treasure fleet 

In 1715, a Spanish fleet of 12 ships was heading from Cuba to Spain. However, they were hit by a hurricane a few days after departure. Only one ship survived. The rest sank with their precious cargo (gold and silver) a few miles away from Florida.

The shipwrecks remained underwater for more than 250 years until they were discovered by the famous treasure hunter Mel Fisher. The treasure is surprisingly easy to reach. Some of the artifacts are only 30 miles (48 km) away from the shore and only 15 feet (4.5 meters) deep.

Mel Fisher sold the exclusive salvage rights to Queens Jewels, LLC. Now, they are the only ones allowed to dive in this location. However, if an item is washed to shore and you find it, it’s yours. Recently, Jonah Martinez found 22 silver coins from this fleet using a metal detector. The owner of Queens Jewels, LLC., has salvaged 4.5 million dollars’ worth of gold and silver so far, though there are more valuable items still underwater to this day. 

Nuestra Señora de Atocha 

This is a Spanish galleon that sank in 1622 because of a hurricane. Only a few passengers survived after climbing to the ship’s mizzen, which remained above the water. Spanish salvagers were unable to recover the entire cargo.

Fast forward more than three hundred years later. Señora de Atocha was discovered by the famous Mel Fisher in 1985. It wasn’t an easy task. He spent nearly 16 years searching for this shipwreck. Small discoveries here and there convinced him that he was getting closer and closer. 

He discovered a few silver bars and bronze cannons before finding the ship’s main body. It was in the Florida Keys, 56 feet (17 meters) underwater. The cargo is estimated to be worth 400 million dollars. 

The ship was loaded with 40 tons of gold and silver. The cargo also included Colombian emeralds. These are the finest and most precious in the world. The captain’s cabin and the sterncastle haven’t been located to date. The most precious items are usually stored there. Some of the recovered items are currently on display at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West.

SS Republic 

The SS Republic is a paddlewheel steamship that was heading from Georgia to New Orleans. It sank in October 1865. Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. located the shipwreck in August 2003. It was 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of Georgia and 1,700 feet (500 meters) underwater.

The main body of the vessel is gone. However, parts of the rudder, paddle wheel, and steam engine are relatively preserved. Even still, this is not what the crew was looking for. The ship was loaded with $400,000 of gold and silver coins. 

More than 750 coins were recovered, many of which were well preserved. The team also managed to salvage other items that held a great historical value like the ship’s bell. The entire expedition was documented by National Geographic.

Black Swan Project 

This is another treasure discovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. They nicknamed the expedition Black Swan Project. In total, the company recovered 17 tons of silver. Later, it was shipped to Florida where it was to be hidden in secret locations.

However, nobody could keep this kind of news secret for long, and on May 18th, 2007, the news became public. The Spanish Government proved that this is the cargo of Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, a Spanish ship that sank in 1804.

Unfortunately for Gregory Stemm, the CEO of Odyssey Marine company, US courts ruled that the treasure needs to be sent back to Spain and his company had to pay the Spanish Government $1 million as compensation for moral damage.

Portions of the discovery had been displayed at a museum in Spain for a few months. The Spanish government also sent a group of underwater archeologists to examine the shipwreck, which is located near the Portuguese coasts. Unfortunately, they found the wreck was damaged during Odyssey’s expedition.

SS Central America 

SS Central America, commonly known as the Ship of Gold, was a side-wheel steamer. It was 280 feet (85 meters) long. This ship was made during the California gold rush, specifically to transport Gold from Panama to New York.

In her last trip, she fell victim to a hurricane and sank in 1857 off the coast of the Carolinas in the United States. The ship was loaded with 20 tons of gold valued around $54 million.

In 1988, the shipwreck was located at a depth of 7,200 feet (2,200 meters) underwater. Tommy Thompson used historical data and mathematics (Bayesian search theory) to find the Ship of Gold. However, it was too deep for divers, so remotely operated underwater vehicles were used instead.


To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.

From its humble beginning in 1994 to today, the group of training agencies Scuba Diving International (SDI), Technical Diving International (TDI), and Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) form one of the largest diving certification agencies in the World – International Training. With 24 Regional Offices servicing more than 100 countries, the company today far exceeds the original vision the founders had when they conceived the idea on a napkin, sitting at a kitchen table in the early 1990’s.

Dive Training Blogs

Join Me On My Commute To Scuba Diving Key Largo! (Watch Video)

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Sunrise was so beautiful the other morning, I wanted to take a time lapse of my drive from home in South Miami to Key Largo before morning dives with Horizon Divers.

I thought you might enjoy taking the ride with me! Silly I know! But here’s 2 minutes of chill!

D.S.D.O,

James


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Dive Training Blogs

Ten Sensational Spots to Snorkel or Learn to Dive!

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A guest blog by PADI

Snorkeling has long been a beloved way to explore the underwater world. With vibrant coral gardens, large schools of fish and a vast underwater topography to explore, snorkel excursions are a great way to experience both your own backyard and create memorable holiday memories to last a lifetime.

But often these sensational snorkel spots are an equally a great place to make your first ocean dives. Whether you participate in a PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience or take the PADI Open Water Diver course to become a certified diver, you’ll be guided by a trained PADI® Professional who will be looking out for you the entire time as you take your first breaths under the ocean. This experience allows you to have an intimate connection with the location you are exploring as, oftentimes, you will have the opportunity to see even more marine life than you would from the surface of the water.

To help you plan your next ocean adventure— whether it be down the road or on your next overseas adventure (whenever that may be!) —we have rounded up ten sensational spots where you can both snorkel and learn to scuba dive!

  1. Kohala Coast, Kaanapali, Maui, USA

Not only does Hawaii come with beautiful scenery above water, but the island chain equally boasts some of the most incredible underwater landscapes in America. One of the best places to experience this is along the Kohala Coast in Kaanapali, Maui—whose calm and clear waters make it a favorite spot amongst snorkelers. But it makes for an equally exceptional scuba experience, where you will get to do either do a boat or shore dive and get amongst the turtles, tropical fish and dramatic underwater landscapes.

Photo Credit: PADI

  1. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Be delighted by one of Australia’s most beloved underwater gems—the Great Barrier Reef. Featuring a rainbow of colorful coral gardens and hundreds of tropical fish species, there is plenty to explore here. It is an ideal spot for groups that want varied experiences as tour operators can cater for those that want to snorkel, those that want to learn to dive and those that are already PADI certified. And when you’re not in the water you will get an enriching reef talk where the experts, who will take you though ways in which you can play a part in conserving the reef system.

  1. Sharks Bay, Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt

For those that don’t want to spend the whole day out on a boat but still want to have a memorable experience on the Red Sea, Sharks Bay in Sharm-El-Sheikh is a great option. With stunning house reefs and wrecks in a marine protected area, the colorful underwater experience is beloved by both those that snorkel or do a discover scuba through the area. The boat ride to the house reef is a short one and the memories will certainly last you a lifetime.

Photo Credit: PADI

  1. Poor Knights Island, Northland, New Zealand

Have the perfect day out at one of New Zealand’s first marine reserves. Dubbed by Jacques Cousteau as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, Poor Knights Island offers something for everyone. You can easily spend hours swimming through the dense kelp forests and archways full of fish! And in between snorkels you can sign yourself up for a PADI Discover Scuba® Diving experience, where the chances are high you will encounter nudibranchs, long-tailed stingrays, devil rays, sea turtles and even an occasional orca!

  1. Stingray City, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

With unique marine life and spectacular underwater topography, Stingray City in Grand Cayman is a stunning spot to explore the ocean. It is famous for the large of stingrays that come through in search of a meal and offers water enthusiasts a special encounter with them. Those lucky enough may even get a kiss on the lips from these friendly sea creatures. Whether you are snorkeling or doing a discover scuba experience here, make sure you also have your camera in hand, as this spot is extremely photogenic and you’ll want a keepsake of you and your new underwater friends.

Photo Credit: PADI

  1. Great Astrolabe Reef, Kadavu, Fiji

One of the most intimate places to snorkel and also have your first diving experience is in the Great Astrolabe Reef. A few seconds underwater and you will quickly discover why Fiji is regarded as the soft coral capital of the world. It is a great spot to have your “Finding Nemo” moment and chances are high that you will also see manta rays and resident white tip reef sharks while you’re in the crystal-clear warm waters. With only small groups exploring the reef at a time, it is the perfect spot to have a special moment amidst the pristine nature.

  1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo, Florida, USA

With this state fully re-open for business (at the time of writing), ditch the crowded amusement parks and beaches for Florida’s underwater park at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which was the first of its kind in America! What makes this an equally great place to snorkel and learn to dive are the shallow waters that have an immense landscape for you to explore. You’ll see abundant sea life with over 650 types of fish, 40 types of living coral the famed 12-foot submerged statue of Jesus.

  1. The Blue Hole, Gozo, Malta

Whether you are snorkeling or diving for the first time in Malta, taking a giant stride into their blue hole is a must-do bucket list item. It’s no surprise this is a favorite spot amongst ocean lovers, as Jacques Cousteau rated this spot one of the best in all of Europe. Be amazed as you watch the natural light rays bounce off the beautiful reef—illuminating the unique topography of the area. For those that try a dive here, it will certainly set standards high for future dives to come!

Photo Credit: Manuel Bustelo

  1. Robberg Nature Reserve, Plettenburg Bay, South Africa

What’s cooler than snorkeling with seals? Diving with them! Plettenburg Bay in the Western Cape is home to some of the friendliest seals who are keen to play all day long. Sign up to snorkel with them for the day during an ocean excursion or do a discover scuba experience— where you learn to dive in the pool first and then head to the ocean to find your furry friends! Either way, it is only a short boat ride out to find the seals, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to play with them in their natural habitat.

  1. Crag-y-Mor, Wales, United Kingdom

Explore the cooler (literally) places in Wales by going on an underwater snorkeling or diving adventure! There are both half-day snorkeling and diving trips that give you a new perspective of the coastline—where both seals and historical ruins are in abundance. While there are magical marine life encounters in these waters all year long, summer offers a chance to see the water sparkle from both moon and blue jellyfish. And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll swim passed walls that are covered in red sea squirts!

Photo Credit: PADI

Ready to dive in? Visit padi.com or contact a PADI Dive Center or Resort to start planning your snorkel or scuba trip!

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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