In the captivating depths of our oceans lie secrets of untold wealth, the remnants of shipwrecks that once carried fortunes in gold. These shipwrecks serve as hidden time capsules, telling tales of maritime trade, colonization, warfare, and the eternal human pursuit of wealth. According to marine archaeologists and treasure hunters, countless shipwrecks containing billions of dollars in gold are yet to be discovered. One of the most eminent figures in this field, Sean Fisher, estimates an astonishing $60 billion worth of lost treasure is waiting to be unearthed from the seabed.
These submerged fortunes are more than just sunken artifacts; they represent centuries of history and the timeless allure of exploration. Shipwrecks can be found in every corner of the globe, and their treasures include not only bullion, coins, and jewelry but also cultural and historical artifacts. Each recovery can illuminate a chapter of our past, but most of these undersea treasures remain undisturbed, hidden beneath layers of sand, coral, and time.
This blog will dive deep into some of the most intriguing examples of lost gold from shipwrecks yet to be discovered. We’ll explore the stories behind these legendary vessels, the treasures they carried, and why they remain elusive despite advances in technology. From the sunken galleons of the Spanish Armada to the merchant ships of the Silk Road of the sea, join us as we delve into the mysterious world of shipwreck treasure hunting.
How Much Treasure Does Sean Fisher Say Hasn’t Been Found Yet?
Sean Fisher is a prominent figure in the world of treasure hunting, most well-known for his family’s connection to the famous Spanish galleon, Nuestra Señora de Atocha. The Atocha, loaded with vast wealth, sank off the coast of Florida during a hurricane in 1622.
Sean Fisher is the grandson of Mel Fisher, a legendary treasure hunter who dedicated his life to finding the Atocha. After sixteen years of relentless searching, Mel Fisher eventually discovered the wreck of the Atocha in 1985. The treasure recovered from the shipwreck, including gold, silver, emeralds, and various artifacts, was worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Sean Fisher continues the work of exploring and excavating the remaining sections of the Atocha shipwreck and other maritime recovery projects. He carries forward the Fisher family’s legacy in the realm of treasure hunting, contributing to the knowledge and preservation of historical shipwrecks and their treasures.
Sean Fisher has reflected the vastness of the yet-to-be-discovered wealth submerged in our oceans. The estimated $60 billion worth of lost treasure is a staggering amount that suggests a vast number of shipwrecks and cargo remain unexplored. This wealth is not only composed of gold but also silver, precious gems, and other valuable artifacts.
To add context, these shipwrecks span centuries of maritime history, from the Age of Exploration to World War II, and they represent a vast array of cultures, trade routes, and historical events. Discovering and excavating these shipwrecks is a challenging process that involves significant investments in technology, time, and resources.
Examples Of Lost Gold That Has Never Been Found
The Flor De La Mar (1511)
The Flor de la Mar, or “Flower of the Sea,” was a Portuguese ship that was lost at sea in 1511 during a violent storm. This storied vessel is one of the most famous missing shipwrecks in maritime history, and her cargo is rumored to contain one of the largest treasures ever lost at sea.
Commissioned by the Portuguese King Manuel I in 1502, the Flor de la Mar was built to serve as a nau (a carrack or a merchant vessel), designed to withstand long sea voyages from Portugal to the East Indies. With her impressive 400-ton carrying capacity, the ship was the largest of her time and a testament to the golden age of Portuguese maritime exploration.
In 1511, under the command of the famous Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque, the Flor de la Mar played a crucial role in the conquest of the wealthy city-state of Malacca (modern-day Malaysia). After successfully capturing the city, the ship was loaded with an enormous treasure taken from Malacca, which included precious metals, gems, and other exotic goods—wealth meant to impress the Portuguese king and court.
However, while returning to Portugal, the Flor de la Mar met with tragedy. She was caught in a violent storm in the Strait of Malacca and, due to her unwieldy size and heavy cargo, the ship was dashed upon the reefs and subsequently sank. The admiral survived, but the ship and the immense treasure were lost to the sea.
Despite modern advances in marine archaeology and technology, the final resting place of the Flor de la Mar remains undiscovered. The main reasons are the challenging marine conditions of the region, the possible dispersion of the wreck due to strong currents and the passage of time, and the legal complications tied to the salvage rights of sunken treasure.
The Flor de la Mar is a symbol of the era of exploration and maritime adventure, representing both the tremendous wealth that was to be found and the immense risks faced by those who dared to venture into the unknown. Her undiscovered treasure continues to fuel the imagination of historians, treasure hunters, and maritime archaeologists around the world.
The San Jose – The Holy Grail of Sunken Treasures (1708)
The San Jose, often dubbed the “Holy Grail of Sunken Treasures,” was a Spanish galleon that sank off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, in 1708 during a battle with British warships in the War of Spanish Succession. It was carrying a vast treasure of gold, silver, and precious gems from the South American colonies to finance the Spanish war effort against England. The cargo is believed to be worth billions of dollars today, making the San Jose one of the most valuable shipwrecks ever lost at sea.
Despite numerous expeditions and attempts to locate the San Jose over the past three centuries, the shipwreck remained elusive for a long time. One of the primary challenges in finding the ship was the lack of precise historical records indicating where it had sunk. The descriptions were vague, and the area where the ship was believed to have gone down was vast and deep, making it difficult to conduct a focused search.
Another significant challenge was the technological limitations of deep-sea exploration and salvage operations. The depth at which the San Jose was believed to lie far exceeded the capabilities of traditional diving equipment and early underwater vehicles.
In 2015, the Colombian government announced that the wreck had been found off the coast of Cartagena. However, the claim led to legal disputes over ownership of the treasure between several parties, including the Colombian government, the descendants of the Spanish royal family, and a US-based salvage company, Sea Search Armada, which claimed to have located the wreck in the 1980s. This legal limbo further complicates the exploration and salvage of the San Jose and its fabled treasure.
Despite the discovery claims, until the wreck’s cargo is fully excavated and its identity conclusively confirmed, the San Jose and its treasure will continue to captivate the imaginations of treasure hunters and historians worldwide.
The Merchant Royal (1641)
The Merchant Royal, often referred to as the “Eldorado of the Seas,” was a 17th-century English trading ship that has become legendary for the vast treasure it reportedly lost when it sank in 1641. The ship was known to have been carrying a wealth of gold, silver, and other precious goods, which if recovered today, would be worth billions of dollars.
The Merchant Royal was a workhorse of the high seas, making several trips between England and Spanish colonies in the Americas, a key trade route during a time of prolific maritime commerce and exploration. On her fateful last voyage, she was loaded with over 100,000 worth of gold, 400 bars of Mexican silver, and countless semiprecious gemstones and other valuable cargo – a fortune accumulated from the colonies in the New World.
On the return trip to England, disaster struck when the ship encountered rough seas off the coast of Land’s End, Cornwall. The Merchant Royal had been battling with leaks even before setting off on her journey, and the challenging weather conditions eventually overwhelmed the ship. Despite the crew’s desperate efforts to keep her afloat, the ship succumbed to the sea, sinking along with her reputedly massive treasure. While most of the crew, including the captain, were rescued by a sister ship, the Dover Merchant, the cargo was irretrievably lost.
Despite being one of the most rich shipwrecks ever not been found, the Merchant Royal’s final resting place remains undiscovered. The primary reason is the lack of precise historical records about the ship’s location when it sank. The waters off Land’s End are notorious for their strong currents and variable weather conditions, making the search operation even more challenging.
Furthermore, the Merchant Royal sank in the mid-17th century, a time when shipbuilding technology did not include durable materials that could withstand the ravages of time and saltwater. This means that the ship’s structure would have significantly deteriorated over the centuries, possibly scattering the wreckage and its treasure over a wide area.
The Merchant Royal’s sunken treasure is part of the estimated $60 billion worth of lost treasure cited by treasure hunter Sean Fisher. The lure of the Merchant Royal’s legendary wealth continues to inspire treasure hunters and maritime archaeologists worldwide, fueling the ever-continuing search for the lost “Eldorado of the Seas.”
The Las Cinco Chagas (1594)
The Las Cinco Chagas, or The Five Wounds, was a Portuguese carrack, a large merchant ship of the late Renaissance, known for its ill-fated voyage in 1594. This shipwreck stands as one of history’s greatest losses in terms of the value of the cargo on board.
The Chagas was returning from a voyage to Goa, India, a Portuguese colony at the time. The ship was laden with a fabulous cargo reputed to include 3,500 chests full of indigo, 900 sacks of pepper, hundreds of chests of cloves, 35 barrels of diamonds, rubies, and pearls, and countless gold coins. It was a treasure trove that demonstrated the wealth of the East Indies and the importance of the spice trade.
Unfortunately, the Chagas never reached its destination. It was attacked by English privateer ships off the Azores. Over a grueling two-day battle, the ship was boarded, the crew and passengers were slain, and the ship was set ablaze. Eventually, the Chagas sank to the bottom of the sea, taking its immense treasure with it.
The location of the Chagas and its treasure remains unknown to this day. The factors that have prevented its discovery are similar to those of other lost shipwrecks: lack of precise historical records for its sinking location, challenging marine conditions, and the technological limitations for deep-sea salvage and exploration.
If the estimates of its cargo are accurate, the value of the treasure on board the Chagas would be extraordinary, possibly running into billions of dollars at today’s prices. This lost fortune is part of the estimated $60 billion of unrecovered treasure that treasure hunter Sean Fisher mentions.
The Las Cinco Chagas serves as a stark reminder of the risks and potential rewards of the maritime trade during the Age of Exploration. Its lost treasure continues to beckon treasure hunters, historians, and maritime archaeologists, inspiring dreams of unimaginable wealth lying untouched on the ocean floor.
The Santa Maria (1492)
The Santa Maria, one of the most famous ships in human history, was the flagship of Christopher Columbus’s first launch to the America area in 1492. Contrary to the popular belief about treasure-laden ships lost at sea, the Santa Maria did not carry an enormous hoard of gold, silver, or precious gems. Its true treasure was the role it played in history.
The Santa Maria was one of three ships (together with the Pinta and the Niña) that set sail from Spain under Columbus’s command. Columbus himself captained the Santa Maria, which was the largest of the three ships. After crossing the Atlantic, the expedition reached the present-day Bahamas, marking the beginning of sustained European contact with the Americas.
Unfortunately, on the night of Christmas Day in 1492, the Santa Maria ran aground off the northern coast of present-day Haiti (Hispaniola). Efforts to save the ship failed, and it had to be abandoned. Columbus ordered his men to strip the ship and build a fort from its timbers, named “La Navidad.”
The ship’s wreckage was never recovered. Over the centuries, several attempts have been made to find the wreck, but none have been conclusively successful. The exact location of the Santa Maria’s wreckage remains a mystery, obscured by over five centuries of currents, storms, and shifting sands.
Le Griffon (1679)
Le Griffon, known as The Griffin in English, was a 17th-century ship commanded by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, to go out and find the Northwest Passage to Asia. Built and began in 1679, Le Griffon was the first largest boat of it’s time to search the Lakes of North America. However, similar to the Santa Maria, the primary value of Le Griffon lies not in lost gold or jewels but in its historical significance.
The ship embarked on its maiden voyage across the Great Lakes, laden not with treasure chests but with trade goods and supplies for La Salle’s exploration and fur trading endeavors. After successfully reaching Green Bay (present-day Wisconsin) on Lake Michigan, Le Griffon was loaded with furs and sent back to Niagara, while La Salle continued his exploration on canoes.
Regrettably, Le Griffon never reached its destination. After setting sail for the return voyage, the ship, along with its crew of six, mysteriously disappeared. Despite numerous searches, the fate of Le Griffon remained uncertain, turning the ship into a legend often known to as the “Great Lakes shipwrecks.”
Over the centuries, many have claimed to have found Le Griffon, but none of these claims have been conclusively verified. Challenges such as the vast area of the Great Lakes, shifting sediments, and the deterioration of the wooden structure of the ship over time all make the discovery and identification of Le Griffon exceptionally difficult.