"It’s a known legend, people know that it’s still out there in deep water. Everyone will be after it, won’t they?"
When the Merchant Royal sank in 1641, it took a payload of 100,000 pounds of gold and 400 bars of Mexican silver down with it.
The British vessel hasn’t been seen since, but a UK fishing crew near Cornwall recently found a trace stuck in its nets: the ship’s big, rusty anchor. According to USA Today, the discovery is confirmed to be part of the Merchant due to its size, age, and location.
Dubbed the “El Dorado of the seas,” the long lost ship is thought to have gone down near the Isles of Scilly off the southwestern tip of England when it sailed into treacherous weather on the voyage home after returning from Mexico. The gold and silver cargo has an estimated current value of more than $1.3 billion.
Anchor from a treasure-laden 17th-century shipwreck has been found off the coast of the U.K._https://t.co/WjigsRDQSs #archeomar ⚓️ #Archeologia #Archaeology #Arqueologia #Shipwrecks #Archéologie #Archäologie #archeo_mar #italia #italy #Cornwall #CornwallMaritimeArchaeology #UK pic.twitter.com/mzpsRzvJM8
— Archeo_Mar_Archeo_Sub (@archeomar) March 6, 2019
While the anchor’s discovery has provided invaluable location data for officials to begin an informed quest for the ship’s wreckage, the project would require far more preparation than merely having a proverbial X on a map to mark the spot.
Treasure hunter and owner of Atlantic Scuba and co-founder of Cornwall Maritime Archaeology Mark Milburn told iNews that this kind of endeavor calls for a team of trained divers who are ready for the ocean, the wreckage — and for the competition undoubtedly eager to get their hands on the bounty.
“The spot where it was found is about 300ft deep — there are very few people that are qualified to dive that deep,” said Milburn. “I’ll be going out there to have a look, but we’ve got to wait for the right conditions and because the conditions are so treacherous, the window is very narrow.”
As if searching for treasure at that depth wasn’t challenging enough, Milburn is adamant that countless independent treasure hunters will be joining the fray — particularly now that the news has broken.
“There will be people going after the treasure,” said Milburn. “My main concern will be people taking it and not telling anyone. It’s a known legend, people know that it’s still out there in deep water.”
“Everyone will be after it, won’t they? It was an old wooden ship and the timber gets eaten away and only iron and metal bits will be left. All that will be on the seabed is an anchor, cannons, and treasure — so long as no one has taken it already.”
Regarding a successful find, anybody discovering the treasure would have to report this lucrative discovery to the British government.
However, while state waters do determine the bounty to belong to the state, Milburn explained that a diver could keep their treasure under salvage rights — but would need a license to claim said right.
Either way, English waters might become a little more popular this month as confirmation of the wreckage and its prosperous cargo has not only been re-confirmed by the anchor’s discovery — but broadcast to anyone and everyone bold enough to go dive for it.
Next, read about five sunken ships more interesting than the Titanic. Then, learn about Truk Lagoon: World War II’s most haunting undersea graveyard.