6 Sunken Treasures Still Waiting to Be Discovered

While the classic image of treasure maps marked with a red “X” is rare today, the world is still teeming with undiscovered treasures, many lying beneath the oceans and seas.

The United Nations estimates that over three million shipwrecks are scattered across the seabed. Among these submerged vessels, some possess significant historical value and may even be filled with valuable treasures. Let’s explore six of the most notable sunken treasures that remain hidden, waiting to be found.

6. Cinco Chagas

Cc: Toovey’s

The Cinco Chagas, a Portuguese vessel, met its end during the 1594 Battle of Faial Island amid the Anglo-Spanish War. Faial Island, part of the Azores archipelago under Portuguese control, was the site of this tragic sinking. Legend claims that when the Cinco Chagas went down, it carried a massive treasure of 2,000 tons, including 22 chests filled with diamonds, rubies, and pearls.

This treasure is estimated to be worth over a billion dollars today. Despite numerous efforts by treasure hunters, the ship’s remains have not been found, likely due to the great depths at which they are believed to rest.

5. RMS Republic

Cc: Wikipedia

The RMS Republic, a steamship built in Belfast in 1903, was part of the White Star Line, the same company later infamous for the Titanic’s 1912 sinking. In 1909, three years before the Titanic disaster, the RMS Republic met its own tragic fate near Nantucket, Massachusetts, after colliding with another ship in dense fog. The accident resulted in six deaths, but fortunately, about 1,500 people were rescued.

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Dubbed the ‘Millionaires’ Ship’ due to its wealthy passengers, the RMS Republic was rumored to be carrying $250,000 in American gold coins at the time of its sinking. There were also whispers of an additional $3 million in various coins aboard. Today, this supposed treasure could be worth over $1 billion.

The shipwreck was discovered in 1981, but to the disappointment of many, the anticipated treasure was not found. Nevertheless, the belief persists that the RMS Republic’s treasure vaults remain hidden beneath the sea, their contents intact and awaiting discovery.

4. 1715 Treasure Fleet

Cc: The Guardian

In 1715, a fleet of eleven Spanish galleons laden with treasures from the New World set sail from Havana, Cuba, bound for Spain. Tragically, they never completed their voyage, falling victim to a hurricane near Florida’s coast. The disaster resulted in the loss of all eleven vessels and over a thousand lives. In the aftermath, various ships, including pirate vessels, arrived to claim the scattered riches.

Centuries later, the 1715 Fleet continues to fascinate as divers still recover gold and silver from the sunken ships. Remarkably, fragments of this long-lost treasure occasionally wash up on Florida’s shores, a testament to the enduring legacy of these maritime relics.

3. Santa Maria

Cc: Wikipedia

In 1492, Christopher Columbus embarked on his first journey to the Americas with three ships: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, the largest of the trio and Columbus’s flagship. The Santa Maria met its end when it capsized.

According to legend, on Christmas Eve of 1492, during the return voyage, the helmsman fell asleep, leaving a cabin boy to steer. Unsurprisingly, the inexperienced boy ran the ship aground near what is now Haiti. The crew salvaged what they could before abandoning the sinking ship.

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The final resting place of the Santa Maria remains unknown, but its historical significance continues to attract treasure hunters.

2. The Merchant Royal

Cc: sky history

The Merchant Royal, known as the ‘El Dorado of the Seas,’ was a significant English galleon of 700 tons, built in the early 1600s. Commanded by Captain John Limbrey, it was returning from trade in the New World when it docked in Cadiz, Spain, for crucial repairs. During this stop, Limbrey agreed to transport a vast treasure to finance Spanish troops in Antwerp, Belgium. It is believed that the Merchant Royal carried ‘100,000 pounds of gold and an equal value in jewels.’

Contemporary estimates of this treasure’s worth range from several hundred million to over a billion pounds. During its voyage, the ship developed a leak and began to sink, ultimately going under on September 23, 1641, near the coast of Cornwall. Aside from the ship’s anchor, which fishermen retrieved in 2019, the Merchant Royal and its riches remain undiscovered.

1. Flor de la Mar

Cc: Heritage Daily

Often referred to as the ‘ultimate shipwreck treasure,’ the Flor de la Mar was a grand Portuguese galleon from the 16th century. Regarded as one of the most magnificent ships of its time, it sailed the Indian Ocean until wear and tear took its toll. Before it could be repaired, the ship was called upon for the Portuguese siege of Malacca (now part of Malaysia).

In 1511, while returning from the successful campaign, the Flor de la Mar was caught in a storm near Sumatra’s shores and sank with a cargo reportedly worth over $2 billion today, intended for the Portuguese monarch. Despite significant investments by treasure seekers to locate its remains, the Flor de la Mar continues to evade discovery.

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