Treasure hunting off Florida's East Coast can turn people into millionaires with one find.
News 6 recently spoke with treasure hunter John Brandon, with 1715 Fleet Queens Jewels LLC.
Brandon started treasure hunting with the legendary Mel Fisher as a teenager.
Through his years of treasure hunting, Brandon said he's found between $30 to 40 million.
However, one person doesn’t get to keep all of the loot.
The state of Florida keeps 20 percent of all new and unique finds. Also, boats and divers are expensive. Historians and archeologists are needed for most big hits, Brandon said. In some cases, it can take decades to find all of the booty from a particular ship.
It took Fisher and Brandon 17 years to find the legendary Nuestra Senora De Atocha in the Florida Keys, but the hunt payed off.
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Gold bars and gold and silver coins recovered by Captain John Brandon and the crew of the M/V Endeavor, on John’s birthday, July 28, 1982. There were five 22 carat gold bars weighing a combined 12.5 pounds, ten small 22 carat gold pieces weighing a combined 2.5 pounds, 24 large 8 Escudo gold coins or gold doubloons, one small gold coin and 165 silver coins mostly 8 Reale pieces. All recovered at Corrigan’s Wreck just offshore of John’s Island, Vero Beach, Florida in 1982. Image from the John Brandon Collection.
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Captain John Brandon’s salvage vessel the M/V Endeavor at anchor at the Douglas Beach Wreck just south of the Ft. Pierce Inlet. The Ocean Village condominiums along the south beach in Ft. Pierce can be seen in the background. Mel Fisher bought the Endeavor for John in 1980 and the Endeavor has become one of the most successful treasure salvage vessels ever to have worked off Florida. Mid-2000s from the John Brandon Collection.
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The team found treasure beyond their wildest dreams, including a huge pile of 300-year-old silver bars. Each bar is 80 pounds of pure silver. Brandon says today, each bar is valued at close to $80,000.
The Atlantic Ocean off Florida's coast included a busy trading route from the New World back to Spain. Huge convoys of Spanish ships transported massive amounts of loot. Hurricanes sunk many of those ships.
Brandon said billions of dollars in booty is still waiting to be found.
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