The 27-year-old underwater treasure hunter has once again struck gold off the coast of Florida, recovering more than $1 million in valuable artifacts from the wreck of a 1715 Spanish ship that sank in the Atlantic Ocean.

The 27-year-old underwater treasure hunter has once again struck gold off the coast of Florida, recovering more than $1 million in valuable artifacts from the wreck of a 1715 Spanish ship that sank in the Atlantic Ocean.

A family of underwater treasure scavengers have once again struck gold off the coast of Florida, recovering more than $1million in precious artifacts from the wreckage of a 1715 Spanish fleet that sank in the Atlantic.

Eric Schmitt, 27, who professionally hunts for treasure with his relatives off their salvage vessel Aarrr Booty, found and brought to the surface the pieces off Fort Pierce in June.

The impressive haul included 51 gold coins of various denominations and 40 feet of ornate gold chain.

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Precious: A rare ‘Tricentennial Royal’ gold coin found in June in the wreckage of a 1715 Spanish fleet that sunk in the Atlantic off the Florida coast

Gold fever: The find included 51 gold coins of various denominations, and 40 feet of ornate gold chain

Brent Brisben, whose company, 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels LLC, owns the rights to the wreckage, said he timed the announcement to coincide with Friday’s 300th anniversary of the sinking of 11 of 12 galleons brought down by a hurricane off the coast of Florida as the convoy was sailing from Havana to Spain.

As many as 1,000 lives were lost in the maritime disaster that struck July 31, 1715.

The small fleet, under the command of Capitan-General Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla and his flagship, the Capitana, were carrying 3.5million pesos in gold and jewelry, including the property of the Queen of Spain.

Eric Schmitt found the artifacts in 15 feet of water off Fort Pierce, approximately 130 miles north of Miami.

The Spanish convoy’s manifests indicated the ships carried cargo valued today at about $400million, of which $175million has been recovered, Brisben said.

His company bought the rights to the site in 2010 from heirs of the legendary treasure hunter Mel Fisher and the firm allows others, including the Schmitts, to search under subcontract agreements.

The discovery came within weeks of the 300th anniversary of the sinking of the 11-ship Spanish fleet off the central Florida coast after getting caught in a hurricane during a voyage from Havana to Spain

Eric Schmitt, second from left, at a press conference in Sebastian, Florida on Tuesday.  Lindsay Schmitt, his wife, stands at left and Brent Brisben, the owner of 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels stands at right. Sister Hillary Schmitt, is second from right

 

Lucky strike: Diver Eric Schmitt (left) is pictured coming up to the surface after recovering a sunken gold coin from the lost 1715 fleet off Fort Pierce, Florida

Doomed armada: Friday marks the 300th anniversary of the sinking of 11 of 12 galleons brought down by a hurricane off the coast of Florida as the convoy was sailing from Havana to Spain

The centerpiece of the Schmitt’s latest find is a perfect specimen of a coin called a ‘tricentennial royal’ made for Spain’s King Phillip V and dated 1715. Only about six royals were known to exist, according to a news release from Brisben’s company.

The gold chains are made of small, handcrafted, two-sided links of six-petaled olive blossoms. They were called money chains and are believed to have been used as a tax-free coinage, the news release said.

Under federal and state law, Florida will take possession of up to 20 per cent of the find for display in a state museum. Brisben’s company and the Schmitt family will split the reminder of the haul, Brisben said.

The Schmitt family have been chipping away at the sunken 1715 treasure for the past two years.

Last July, Eric Schmitt recovered the missing piece of a 300-year-old gold filigree necklace called Pyx that was sacred to Spanish priests.

Family business: Eric Schmitt (right) – along with with his sister Hillary (left), father Rick (center) and other family members runs a diving salvage company named Booty Salvage

 

 

 

Past successes: Last July, Eric Schmitt recovered the missing piece of a 300-year-old gold filigree necklace called Pyx, and in 2002 the young diver came upon a 300-year-old Mexican silver platter

‘The more we do this, the bigger the finds we make, so I kind of less believe in luck and more believe in our hard work,’ Schmitt told CBS News.

The year before, the Schmitts found three pounds of thin gold chains, five gold coins and a gold ring worth a total of $300,000 from the same 300-year-old wreckage.

Rick Schmitt has been diving for treasure since he was a teenager in the 1960s. He retired in 1999 and started the family’s diving salvage business.

Another notable find was by his son Eric in 2002; he found a 300-year-old Mexican silver platter near Sebastian that was worth around $25,000.

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