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Family dive team finds 1 million in Treasure of Ft. Pierce two years ago. Recent 1715 fleet Treasure

The now famous Florida “Treasure Coast” was born on the day, Kip Wagner and Mel Fisher found over 5,000 Spanish gold coins in shallow water less than 200 feet from the beach.  The treasure was from one of the shipwrecks from the 1715 Spanish Plate fleet.  The treasure had been waiting on the sea bed for over 250 years.

Just a few years ago a mother and daughter found a fabulous gold bird statue right on the beach in Ft. Pierce Florida. Facebook Mother and Daughter find Golden Bird Statue Treasure

Kip Wagner used a map made by a Dutch Surveyor named Bernard Romans 59 years after the 1715 Spanish Plate sank in a hurricane.  This real live treasure map showed the location of the wreck just off the coast of Florida, south of the Fort Pierce inlet. Where do treasure hunters find treasure maps?  Kip Wagner’s partner, Dr. Kip Kelso, did years of translation and researched in the famous Archives of Seville, in Spain, to find this Survey.

Photo courtesy of Seventeen Fifteen Fleet Society

The Sinking of the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet

When the map was made, the Sebastian Inlet was called the Sebastian River. This real Treasure map states “Opposite this River perished the Admiral commanding the Plate Fleet 1715”. To pin down the location further, Kip Wagner searched the beach brush South of the inlet for signs of the shipwreck survivors 1715 encampment.

In the early morning hours of July 31, the 1715 Spanish Plate fleet, filled with over six million pesos in registered treasure was hit by a category 5 hurricane. The treasure ships sank off the Florida coast with ships, treasure, and wreckage spread out over 75 miles of coral reef. Sadly, over a thousand souls were lost in that storm.

In May 1964, under a subcontract from Kip Wagner’s “Real Eight” Company, Mel Fisher found the fabulous treasure called the “Carpet of Gold.” The Carpet of gold is over 5000 gold “cobs” scattered on the shallow bottom. The amazing thing about finding sunken gold treasure is that even hundreds of years later the almost pure 22 Karat gold coins are still looking bright, shiny yellow

The chests of silver found, appeared like a box shaped stack of black oysters because the boxes melted away and the silver coins turned to black due to seawater corrosion and metal oxidation process

After Mel Fisher found the “Carpet of Gold” he was hooked.  He used this money to search for his own shipwreck, the Atocha. There had not been treasure ships for over 4 years and Philip V, the king of Spain in 1614, was desperately needing to replenish his empty royal coffers from years of war with England.

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Potter’s Treasure Diver book is the “Bible” of treasure hunters.  After 4 years of looking in the Upper Matecumbe Keys, his research team in the Archives of Seville realized that Fisher was looking in the wrong place.  On every day of his 16 year search for the wreck of the Atocha, he would say “Today is the Day”.  In 1975, one of Mel Fisher’s sons died when the boat he was sleeping in capsized.

Using very high-tech Proton Magnetometers and side scan sonar, the team got one hit on barrel hoops from Spanish Gallon water barrels. Finally, he hit the mother lode, over 250,000 artifacts and yards of gold chain. The reason the chains were so long was because back in 1614 passengers could bring all the gold jewelry that they could wear tax free, otherwise they had to pay the King’s Royal 5th – a 20% duty tax

The State of Florida and the Federal goverment claimed ownership of the 1/2 billion dollars of treasure.  Mel Fisher offered them 30% but they wanted all of it, not 30 percent.  After a long 8 year legal battle, The Supreme Court awarded it to Mel Fisher. It took Mel Fisher 24 years to finally bag his treasure.


Photos courtesy of the 1715 Fleet Society.  See more information about the shipwrecks from the 1715 fleet society on the web at 1715 Fleet Society.



  1. June 17, 2015 Treasure hunters are still finding gold after others have already searched the area for 60 years. Artifacts and treasure worth over 1 million dollars was found off the coast of Fort Pierce after a hurricane.