According to the TCPalm newspaper, Jonah Martinez, a 43-year-old treasure hunter from Florida’s Port St. Lucie, found the 22 Spanish silver coins across the Turtle Trail Beach on Friday night. The coins, which were discovered using a metal detector, are expected to be worth around $7,000.
— Max Chesnes (@MaxChesnes) February 28, 2020
On July 31, 1715, 12 Spanish ships carrying silver treasures from the New World were on their way back to Spain. However, 11 of the ships were lost during a hurricane near present-day Vero Beach, Florida. Many of the treasures that were onboard are believed to currently lie somewhere on the ocean floor. Artifacts from the wreck wash up on Florida beaches occasionally.
"Not everyone knows why it's called the Treasure Coast," Martinez told the TCPalm, referring to the region of the Florida coast where the coins were found. "This is why."
"I know how to read the beach, and I'm always trying to increase my odds of finding something," Martinez told the outlet.
Florida law states that people must receive permits to recover artifacts on state-owned lands underwater. Such rules, however, do not apply to public beaches where the coins were found.
Although Martinez says one coin alone could be worth as much as $2,000, he told the TCPalm that he does not plan to sell the silver pieces. "It's a passion. It's the thrill of the hunt that I love,” he said.
This is not the first time Martinez has unearthed artifacts from shipwrecks. In July 2017, Martinez and his team discovered a few artifacts from the 1715 Spanish wrecks off the coast of Wabasso, Florida, and he once found $6.5 million worth of gold coins, according to the TCPalm.