1622 Atocha Shipwreck
Arguably the most famous of all Spanish galleons salvaged in our time, the Atocha was the admiral ship of the 1622 Fleet, which left Havana several weeks late and ran afoul of a hurricane. Eight of the 28-ship fleet were lost, wrecked on the reefs between the Dry Tortuga's and the Florida Keys or sunk in deeper water. Five people survived the sinking of the Atocha and were rescued by another vessel, but the wreck itself was scattered after another hurricane hit the site exactly one month later. The Spanish were never able to salvage what was one of the riches galleons ever to sail. The cargo of the Atocha did not see light again until 1971, when the first coins were found by the now-famous salvager Mel Fisher and his divers, who recovered the bulk of the treasure in 1985 and thereby unleashed the largest supply of silver cobs and ingots the market has ever seen.