Spanish Navy vessels looking for sunken treasure off the country’s coast have found around 100 possible shipwrecks in the first fruit of a drive to protect Spain’s historical heritage from private salvagers seeking gold and other booty.
Two minesweepers and other vessels located the sites in Atlantic waters off the southwestern city of Cadiz as part of a campaign that began Sept. 8 and is due to last two months, the Culture Ministry said Tuesday.
Spain wants to avoid a repeat of a saga that began in 2007 when Tampa, Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration found a sunken Spanish galleon and salvaged from it an estimated $500 million in silver coins and other artifacts.
That ship, the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, was sunk by the British navy southwest of Portugal in 1804 while sailing back from South America with more than 200 people on board. A U.S. court ruled last year the loot belongs to Spain but the company has appealed and still has the treasure, holding it in the United States.
Spanish Navy officials were not immediately available to comment on which if any of the new possible shipwrecks might be valuable or when marine archeologists might determine this.