Treasure hunters find silver coins more than 300-years old buried on Florida beach

Published: Feb. 27, 2020 at 9:43 AM EST
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WABASSO, Fla. (WPTV/CNN) - A group of friends in Florida loves to look for buried treasure and last week they found a trove of silver coins that are 300-years old.

The skies are overcast and rain's moving closer to the beaches along Hutchinson Island while people seek cover, but it's the perfect time to dig for treasure in the sand.

When it comes to finding treasure on the beach, these three welcome major storms.

Jeremy Prouty said, "During Frances and Jeanne, I didn't sleep for three days."

Jonah Martinez added, "When we have these storms they move the light material and drop the heavy stuff."

It's a different story when looking for treasure in the water.

"When the surf gets laid down, our boats are able to work more efficiently," Martinez explained.

For 24 years, treasure hunters like Martinez have found Spanish coins 300-years old. Their latest find happened on Friday when the three found 22 silver coins and other Spanish ship artifacts along Wabasso's Turtle Trail Beach.

But that's actually one of their smaller finds. They've found belt buckles, daggers, cutlery, porcelain, household items and noble menswear like cuff links.

And the value of their finds have really added up.

Martinez said, "Between $13 million and $15 million in treasure recoveries."

The treasure is believed to be from the 1715 treasure fleet wreck involving 11 Spanish ships returning from a trade voyage to Cuba that wrecked near Sebastian during a hurricane.

Nichole Johanson of Mel Fisher Maritime Museum explained, "A hurricane came and pushed them all onto the reefs of the Treasure Coasts. And that is why we are called the Treasure Coasts because of these shipwrecks."

Johanson, whose grandfather was the main salvager of the shipwrecks, also estimates there's more treasure in these waters and there's a museum dedicated to it.

"It's carrying on that tradition and being able to pass that on to future generations," said Prouty.

The museum says coins from the Spanish fleet weren't recovered until the late 1950s, which is a sign there's a lot more treasure to be found.

Martinez says the silver coins are worth about $5,000 but he and his friends don’t sell them. They keep their finds as artifacts or donate them to museums.

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