Diving for Treasure with Metal Detectors

by Daniel Bernzweig

Scuba Diving for Treasure

For starters, do not refer to salvage teams that scuba dive in pirate shipwrecks and sunken ships in search of gold coins, silver coins, gold bars, and gems as treasure hunters. It implies that treasure hunters are looking for something valuable, but what they find may not necessarily be worth anything. They might just find some old junk or broken items. Treasure hunting can be dangerous. There are many hazards associated with it. Divers are exposed to deep waters where they may suffer from decompression sickness (the bends). Divers must also contend with strong currents, rough seas, and unpredictable weather. Underwater divers often work long hours without seeing daylight. As a result, they are susceptible to sunburn, dehydration, fatigue, and hypothermia.

Mel Fisher Deep Sea Diving for Treasure

A colorful individual like Mel Fisher, who is a well-known treasure scuba diver and has used places such as Key West and Nuestra Seora de Atocha as dive sites for looking for sunken treasure, discovered the Spanish galleon Atocha of the Spanish fleet off the Florida Keys in 1985. This was clearly the greatest discovery of his lifelong search for sunken ancient cities and treasures. Over the years, Fisher had many incredible adventures in his vast underwater world. A world of lost treasure and greedy pirate adventures. His treasure hunt spanned the globe, treasure diving with his team throughout North America and beyond.

The Atocha was found by divers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at a depth of approximately 1,000 feet. It was located just outside of Key Largo, Florida. The shipwreck itself is estimated to date back to 1565. It was built during the reign of King Philip II of Spain. The wreck site is now protected by the NOAA under the Protection and Research Vessel Rescuer. Over $400 million worth of gold, silver, coins, jewels, and emeralds were found in the discovery. A coin from the Atocha plated in 14-karat gold sells for $13,700 on Fisher's website. With underwater metal detectors and scuba diver gear in search of buried treasure chests among shells, and coral reef structures performing underwater exploration at sea depth to great depths in search of artifacts, such individuals may be archaeologists or treasure hunters seeking to establish their businesses.

Diving for Treasure in the Movies

The 2008 film, Fool's Gold, starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, provided a romantic twist to the age-old theme of underwater treasure hunting. In the film, a young couple rekindles their relationship while searching for underwater treasure. The film not only features diving for sunken treasure, but it provides plenty of action for fans of the film genre. 

The interesting thing about Fool's Gold is that it may not be too far off from the exciting lives many treasure hunters live. Sure, they may not experience romance like McConaughey's character did in the film, but diving for treasure can lead to a Hollywood film-like ending worth millions of dollars. 

Diving for Treasure as a Business

According to reports, there are fewer than 20 companies in the United States that searching for sunken treasure. These companies often outsource the work they do to independent contractors. These independent contracts spend their time searching for and diving for treasure. It can be a difficult existence, but if a big treasure is found, then it makes the hunt worth it. It has been reported that there are less than 20 companies in the United States that are dedicated to searching for sunken treasures. The work that these companies do is often outsourced to independent contractors who do the work on their behalf. It is these independent contractors who spend their time searching for treasure and diving for it. Despite the fact that it can be a tough existence, if you find a big treasure, then it makes the search worth it. If you want to dive into this industry, I recommend starting out by becoming a contractor first. This will allow you to gain experience working with different clients and see what kind of work they require from you. Once you feel comfortable doing so, then you can start looking for opportunities to become a subcontractor. A rigorous training program is required to become a professional diver. Hands-on practice in pools and oceans around the world follows several years of classroom instruction. Upon passing these tests, divers will be certified competent to dive safely. After receiving certification, they can specialize in different areas of underwater exploration. Some divers prefer deep sea diving, while others prefer shallow waters. Some people even specialize in wreck diving, where they explore shipwrecks.

Diving for Treasure with a Metal Detector

Scuba diving is a popular activity for many people, especially on vacations to warm, coastal areas. Scuba diving with a metal detector only enhances the underwater experience. Diving with a metal detector around an old shipwreck takes the excitement of scuba diving up a notch. Begin with a trusted dive shop and instruction and select a waterproof metal detector suited to your diving treasure needs. Will you be exploring caves or just searching along a coral reef or old wreck at your dive site?

Metal detecting equipment makes it possible to recover rare coins, valuable objects, and ancient artifacts where ships wrecked years, decades, or centuries ago. Diving for treasure isn't just reserved for shipwrecks. You may explore the site of crashed aircraft. You can dive around the wreckage with your trusty underwater metal detector to locate all kinds of valuable objects. 

Any experienced underwater treasure hunter will tell you just how exciting it is to dive for sunken treasure. There isn't a shortage of shipwrecks and crashed aircraft in the world's oceans, rivers, and lakes. Exploring wrecks from the past is easy with a metal detector. You can find them off the coast of Florida, where they are plentiful. You should check your local laws before diving with a metal detector. In some states, private citizens can search for treasure without permission, but in others, permits and licenses are required.

Taking along the right equipment and knowing how to operate a metal detector is crucial if you decide to dive with one. There may be a need for special certification if you intend to dive near coral reefs, for instance. Also, some wreck sites are protected by law, and you may not be allowed to enter them without a permit.

Finds while diving for sunken treasure

Living in a history-rich area gives you the chance to go diving for sunken treasure. If you are a detectorist, you really should take advantage of your location and explore the world underwater. You may find a number of historical artifacts. Some artifacts are more common in bodies of water around the world than other items. 

In the United States, you may find artifacts from the American Civil War, firearms, and other objects such as coins or jewelry. If you want to explore further afield, some major treasures are waiting for you to find. 

In 2015, a cache of 60 rare gold coins and other sunken ship artifacts were found in a shipwreck off the coast of Florida. The ship was destroyed by a hurricane in 1715 while sailing from Cuba to Spain. In 1941, a British merchant ship, the SS Gairsoppa, set sail from Calcutta with 2,800 silver bars. The ship was sunk by a German U-boat just 300 miles off the coast of Ireland. In 2010, the SS Gairsoppa was located, and five years later, 48 tons of silver goods were recovered from the shipwreck. The find is worth almost $82 million. 

Popular places to go scuba diving for treasure

Obviously, the best places to search for sunken treasure are amongst the underwater landscape. The beach areas of lakes are great spots to search. These areas are frequented by people, meaning you could find jewelry, coins, and other metal goods. Large lakes like the Great Lakes could yield other treasures due to shipwrecks. If you want to find some amazing treasures, then the world's oceans are the best places to go. Diving for sunken treasure in the oceans could lead you to discover gold and silver coins, gold bars, silver ingots, cannonballs, firearms, and much more.

Although searching the world's oceans can be expensive, you can easily pay for the equipment once you make a big find. In 2008, the world's most valuable underwater treasure was located. The wreck of the SS Central America lies off the coast of Costa Rica, where it sank during a hurricane in September 1912. It holds $1 billion worth of gold bullion, silver bars, copper ingots, and other precious metals. The Spanish galleon, which sunk in June 1708, was carrying silver and gold from South America to Spain. The sunken treasure was found near Cartagena, Columbia. 

Relic hunting while river diving for treasure

River diving for treasure can yield a variety of great finds. You may not consider diving in freshwater rivers, yet they have could provide you with some extraordinary finds. Rivers make for great resting places for Civil War items in the United States. You may find firearms that were discarded by individuals. Coins and jewelry are common, too.

For centuries, people have tossed items into rivers seeking to dispose of things quickly. Relic hunting in rivers gives you the chance to find discarded items. In addition, rivers were once the highways and byways of America. Plenty of items over the years fell off of boats and can now be located. If you cannot get to the ocean, then the river is the next best location for diving for sunken treasure. A metal detector with a low-frequency range is ideal for locating relics.

The most common type of relic found in rivers is jewelry. Jewelry was popular among women during the 19th century. It was not uncommon for them to wear several pieces at one time. This included rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and hair combs. These items often contained valuable metals like gold and silver. Other types of items include buttons, buckles, pins, belt buckles, and cuff links. Some of these may contain precious gems.

FAQ on Diving for Treasure

Are you allowed to keep sunken treasure?

A country of a ship's origin may claim the ownership of a wreck. Even if a ship was sunk and abandoned for centuries, the original owner still has the right to claim ownership. Ownership is complicated due to the location of a shipwreck if it is located in the territorial waters of another country.

What happens if you find treasure in the ocean?

Maritime laws typically govern what occurs with sunken treasure once it is found.

Can you dive for treasure in Florida?

There are a number of old shipwrecks off Florida's coast. Laws are in transition, but several treasure salvage operations have received special permissions for specific recoveries in the Sunshine State.

Do treasure hunters keep what they find?

You may not be able to keep the treasure you locate. The country of the ship's origin may claim ownership of a major treasure. For small items found in local rivers and lakes, the artifact is likely to be yours. Check the current laws in your location.

How much gold is lost in the ocean?

In 2017, it was estimated that $771 trillion worth of gold lies underneath the surface of the world's oceans. 

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