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. It may contain 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. He would not reveal its location. The ship sank somewhere in the wide area off Colombia's Baru peninsula. That is 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 has represented Sea Search in Colombia for decades. He 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. That was 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. It 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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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why has the location of the galleon been kept secret?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (17)
  • paigea-3-bar
    12/11/2015 - 12:13 a.m.

    The location of the galleon has been kept a secret because whoever finds the treasure, possibly worth billions of dollars, would receive 50 percent of the findings. The article proves this by saying, "Two years later, Colombia's government overturned well-established maritime law that gives 50 percent to whoever locates a shipwreck." The state wouldn't want anyone else to find it and claim the money they deserve, thus keeping it a secret. I think this article is very intriguing because I didn't know that this ship even sank or had that many prized possessions on it that are worth so much money!

  • maddiei-orv
    12/11/2015 - 12:31 a.m.

    This is very interesting. If the treasure is recoverered the U.S., Columbia and Spain will try their hardest to be able to claim the treasure if it really is worth all that they think. I wish they would all split the money, and it would still be a lot if its worth billions, but they wouldn't want to do that. I wish that we could enjoy the treasure and finding it instead of fighting over it, which will happen as soon as it is recovered, the fighting, if its not already happening.

  • kieranz1-hor
    12/11/2015 - 11:44 a.m.

    I believe that the authors purpose of writing this article was to inform people of recent discoveries an history. I learned from this article more on Columbian history. I think that everything stated in this article is true and I agree with it.

  • jfigu-wim
    12/11/2015 - 12:55 p.m.

    Hard to believe that one ship could have billions of dollars on it. Imagine how rich you would be if you found the ship.

  • laneys-1-ols
    12/14/2015 - 12:51 p.m.

    It has been kept a secret because who ever finds it gets 50% of the share found.

  • karlees-1-ols
    12/14/2015 - 12:54 p.m.

    The location of the galleon has been kept a secret, because they don't want people trying to find it, because it could be worth millions of dollars, and they would receive 50% of the findings.

  • keatonm-1-ols
    12/14/2015 - 12:54 p.m.

    I can't believe that there is billions of dollars in one ship. We should get the money out of there and give it to Nebraska. They should not give it to Iowa though.

  • tycenb-ols
    12/14/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    The reason the location was kept secret isn't really told. They just say it was a state secret and he would not reveal the location. The only hint of location is South of Cartagena.

  • briannar-1-ols
    12/14/2015 - 12:58 p.m.

    President Juan Manual Santos has hailed the discovery of of a Spanish galleon that went down about 300 years ago. It may have been the largest sunken treasure. He stated the exact location, how it was discovered, and was kept a secret.

  • jasminpd-1-ols
    12/14/2015 - 12:58 p.m.

    The man who found it plus the government doesn't want any one finding the treasure because it is valuable. It is worth a lot of money.

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