Colombia finds what may be the world's largest sunken treasure
Colombia finds what may be the world's largest sunken treasure Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos talks to the media during a press conference in Cartagena, Colombia, Saturday, Dec.5, 2015. (AP Photo/ Pedro Mendoza)
Colombia finds what may be the world's largest sunken treasure
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President Juan Manual Santos of Colombia has hailed the discovery of a Spanish galleon that went down off the South American nation's coast more than 300 years ago with what may be the world's largest sunken treasure.
Speaking in the colonial port city of Cartagena, Santos said the exact location of the galleon San Jose, and how it was discovered with the help of an international team of experts, was a state secret that he'd personally safeguard. The ship sank somewhere in the wide area off Colombia's Baru peninsula, south of Cartagena.
While no humans have yet to reach the wreckage site, underwater vehicles have gone there and brought back photos of dolphin-stamped bronze cannons. They are in a well-preserved state that leaves no doubt to the ship's identity, the government said.
The discovery is the latest chapter in a saga that began three centuries ago, on June 8, 1708. That is when the galleon ship with 600 people aboard sank. It was trying to outrun a fleet of British warships. It is believed to have been carrying 11 million gold coins and jewels from then Spanish-controlled colonies that could be worth billions of dollars if ever recovered.
The ship is considered by maritime experts to be the holy grail of Spanish colonial shipwrecks. It has been the subject of a legal battle in the U.S., Colombia and Spain over who owns the rights to the sunken treasure.
In 1982, Sea Search Armada, a salvage company owned by U.S. investors, announced it had found the San Jose's resting place 700 feet below the water's surface.
Two years later, Colombia's government overturned well-established maritime law that gives 50 percent to whoever locates a shipwreck. The government slashed Sea Search's take to a 5 percent "finder's fee."
A lawsuit by the American investors in a federal court in Washington was dismissed in 2011. The ruling was affirmed on appeal two years later. Colombia's Supreme Court has ordered the ship to be recovered before the international dispute over the fortune can be settled.
Santos didn't mention any salvage company's claim during his presentation. But the government said the ship had been found Nov. 27 in a never-before referenced location through the use of new meteorological and underwater mapping studies.
Danilo Devis, who has represented Sea Search in Colombia for decades, expressed optimism that the sunken treasure, whose haul could easily be worth more than $10 billion, would finally be recovered.
But he bristled at the suggestion that experts located the underwater grave anywhere different from the area adjacent to the coordinates Sea Search gave authorities three decades ago.
"The government may have been the one to find it but this really just reconfirms what we told them in 1982," he told The Associated Press from his home in Barranquilla, Colombia.
The president said any recovery effort would take years.
During his presentation, Santos showed an underwater video that appears to show jewels and the cannons. In the footage, English-speaking crew members aboard a Colombian naval ship can be seen launching the underwater vehicle into the ocean.

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Why has the location of the galleon been kept secret?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • jack3-del
    12/11/2015 - 09:16 a.m.


  • angelad-6-bar
    12/11/2015 - 10:23 a.m.

    The location of the galleon has been kept a secret because the sunken ship could contain treasures worth billions of dollars "whose haul could easily be worth more than $10 billion, would finally be recovered" and if other people knew the location they could go after the gold the jewels for them selves, risking the chance of Colombia get the treasure. I found this article interesting because you rarely ever here of discoveries of vast treasures anymore in this time. I found this article surprising because Colombia is willing to take years to recover the treasures.

  • haleyh36057-
    12/14/2015 - 08:53 a.m.

    It has probably been kept secret because it is worth so much. If everyone knew of the location then there would be plenty of people trying to go and get their "fair share".

  • jacobp123456791-
    12/14/2015 - 08:54 a.m.

    I wonder why it would take years just to retrieve a shipwreck.

  • colemand-
    12/14/2015 - 08:54 a.m.

    I think it's wrong to keep the location of the ship a secret, the public should have a right to know.

  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    12/15/2015 - 03:54 p.m.

    I wonder if they will ever try to retrieve any of the items from the ship. That would be cool. I always wanted to be able to go into a sunken ship just to see how the ocean has treated it.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    4/06/2016 - 09:43 p.m.

    The people in Colombia might have been able to find that may be the world's largest sunken treasure which the president had been able to locate the sunken galleon that contains the largest sunken treasure. The president might have not wanted to tell the exact location of the treasure that people would be the world's largest sunken treasure where the treasure had been first discovered. The people might have wanted to find the world's largest sunken treasure that whoever had been able to find the shipwreck they would be able to get fifty percent on what is worth. People might have only be able to see the shipwreck only which the pictures that had been taken which people hadn't been able to see the actual shipwreck in their life.
    Critical Thinking Question: Why has the location of the galleon been kept secret?
    Answer: The location of the galleon had been kept secret so that people would know where the location is and try to find the shipwreck of the Spanish galleon.

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