A Spanish shipwreck was discovered off the coast of Colombia, carrying treasure with an estimated value of over $17 billion dollars. The treasure includes gold, silver, and emeralds. The ship, San Jose, is believed to have sunk during the War of Spanish Succession against British troops on June 8, 1708. Around 600 people were on board. Before it was discovered, many people searched for it, calling it the “holy grail of shipwrecks,” according to WBUR News.
The search was done in partnership with Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Using an underwater vehicle called the REMUS 6000, researchers were able to take sonar images that led to the discovery of the shipwreck. The REMUS 6000 also took photos of the ship, which helped identify the ship as the San Jose. The most important indicator of the ship that was analyzed was the dolphin engravings on the bronze cannons of the ship, detailed Live Science. The first indication of the ship was discovered on November 27, 2015. It was later that year that the ship was determined to be the San Jose.
For years, the finding was kept secret, and it wasn’t until just recently that researchers were given the green light to share the findings with the world. The vice president for marine facilities and operations explained that “We’ve been holding this under wraps out of respect for the Colombian government.”
The treasure that was aboard the ship was mined in Peru. The riches were going to be used to further fund the war, and ships like the San Jose carrying tons of valuables typically had warship escorts. However, in 1708, the escorts were delayed for the San Jose. The Spanish commander Admiral José Fernandez de Santillan made the decision to set sail anyway, which was a fatal mistake.
After the San Jose left port, four English ships with 500 men engaged in a cannon fight with the ship, until the ship was sunk.
Today, the ship holds valuable information along with its treasure. The Colombian government will create a museum and conservation laboratory to study and educate people about the history of the ship.
The discovery elated researchers, including Munier, who said that “It was a pretty strong feeling of gratification to finally find it,” reported the Daily Mail. The president of Colombia, Mr. Santos, echoed the sentiment, stating that the discovery was “one of the greatest – if not the biggest, as some say – discoveries of submerged patrimony in the history of mankind.”
The proceeds from the wreckage are going to be split between the government and WHOI, while the government will keep the treasure.