The Schmitt family from Sanford, Florida have been treasure hunting for years as part of a time-honored family tradition. This Labor Day weekend they found booty worth approximately $300,000 on the ocean floor, just off the coast of Fort Pierce.
FOX35 headed over to the treasure-find to speak to the family. Captain Eric Schmitt, who discovered the gold, said “We definitely knew it was shipwreck material, for sure.” He continued, “I can’t describe anything other than putting my head down in the sand and holding it in my hand and just wanted to sit there and hold it forever.”
The Schmitt family have been booty hunting for over 14 years, but dad Rick has been a bounty hunter since the 1960s. The family’s business was pest control until they sold their company over 10 years ago in favor of treasure hunting.
Rick Schmitt said that the official name for the family’s profession now is “treasure salvagers.” Talking about the family, he added, “We only have to work four months a year.”
The treasure salvaging family are subcontractors for Brent Brisben, the owner of 1715 Fleet- Queens Jewels LLC. He said about the family’s gold find: “The area the Schmitts are working is a well-known established shipwreck from a 1715 treasure fleet. Artifacts have been coming off of this wreck site for over 50 years.”
Brisben himself struck it big when he discovered 51 gold coins worth in excess of $250,000 back in July. In this latest holiday weekend discovery, the Schmitt family found five gold coins and over 60 feet of gold chain.
In a case where treasure like this is found, the State has the first rights to the bounty. Roughly 20 percent of the gold found by the family will be displayed in a local museum. Brisben said, “What they take are the really rare and significant artifacts for display purposes to put in the museum in Tallahassee.” The remaining 80 percent will be split somehow between the Schmitt’s and Brisben.
As if the family finding gold on the weekend wasn’t enough, on Tuesday they uncovered another stash of treasure. Lisa Schmitt said: “If you’ve ever taken a look at the ocean, talk about the proverbial needle in the haystack. Most days they find beer cans and fishing sinkers,”
Captain Schmitt spoke about the fact that treasure hunting is very challenging work: “It is not like winning the lottery,” he said “There is no chance in this. It is hard work, man.”
Nevertheless, when a family finds gold worth this amount of money, does it really matter how hard the work is? After all, it’s a huge amount to earn for just a few hours work.