Blue Water Ventures began its story with the Santa Margarita which sank in the straits of Florida.
In September 1622, the Margarita was one of 28 ships setting sail from their final port of call in Havana and heading north across the Straits of Florida. But within days of leaving port, the fleet encountered a violent storm near the Marquesas Keys. Five ships sank, and more than 500 passengers and crew perished.
Spanish salvagers made a few attempts to recover the Margarita’s treasures in the years after, and they were rewarded with several hundred silver ingots and thousands of silver coins. But most of the treasure remained scattered and buried beneath the sands, and over time the Margarita was forgotten.
The wreck was rediscovered in the 1980s, and in 2006 Blue Water Ventures, secured the rights to search the area. Remote sensing technologies have progressed dramatically since a 23 foot section of the wreck was first discovered back in the 1980s. The Blue Water exploration team included three vessels for survey and excavation. Two of the vessels were equipped with sonar that searches the ocean floor for irregularities; cesium magnetometers that map buried object containing iron, such as anchors, chains and cannons, and global positioning equipment that pinpoints the location of anomalies for divers to investigate. With hard work and a dedicated team of divers these tools lead to a bounty that included gold bars, a solid gold chalice, silver coins, a golden reliquary, and a lead chest holding 16,184 still-luminous natural pearls. In 2011, Blue Water left the Santa Margarita site to follow other shipwreck projects.
Pictures from Santa Margarita Galleon: