Emeralds, gold and sunken treasure at the bottom of the Colombian ocean | travel and exploration
While Commander Jose Fernández de Santillán supervised the loading of the ships, Admiral Wager of England set sail for the Caribbean with a fleet of four warships. When they finally reached the Colombian coast, they anchored off the island of Pequeña Baru, about 18.6 miles from Cartagena, to refuel.
Their presence was spotted by the Spanish and word was sent to Commander Jose, warning him of the enemy’s presence. However, the hurricane season was almost upon them, and the commander could no longer delay the departure of his ships, and began the long journey back to Europe with the riches, stopping at Cartagena.
On June 8, the fleet moored for the night off the island of Barú. It was not until the next day that they saw the four British warships approach. A battle ensued, which continued late into the night, with each ship firing cannons at the other. The first of the Spanish ships, San Joaquín, escaped during the night. Disaster strikes the second, the San José when its powder magazine explodes following shots that have lasted for more than an hour. It began to sink rapidly and only 11 out of 600 crew survived. The third ship, the Santa Cruz, was eventually captured, but it was carrying very little cargo – most of it being on the San Joaquín and the San José, which had now sunk to the depths of the ocean.
The cargo, which was considered worth more than all of Spain’s national income at the time, is now estimated at $17 billion in today’s money. The enormous value of the wreck has earned it the name “holy grail of shipwrecks”.
Naturally, another battle ensued over the contents of the ship. In the 1980s, a group of American investors claimed to have found the wreck off the coast of Colombia, but the country refused to sign their offer of a 65%/35% share and refused permission from the group to carry out a full rescue operation. Many lawsuits ensued, and eventually, the galleon declared Columbia ownership.
On November 27, 2015, the galleon was finally located by the Colombian Navy, although then Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos did not announce the discovery until December 5. And in June 2022, the Colombian military released incredible underwater footage of the ship. , which, according to experts, was loaded with 200 tons of treasure.
The video reveals everything from ingots to ancient cannons to untouched Chinese porcelain and pottery. The footage shared by the Colombian military was captured with a remotely operated submersible vehicle that dived to a depth of nearly 0.6 miles. The government refuses to release the coordinates, as the exact location of the vessel is considered a state secret.
The navy submersible also found two other wrecks, both nearby, one of which was a colonial ship and the other a schooner, believed to date back to Colombia’s war of independence from against Spain in 1819.
“We now have two more finds in the same area that show other options for archaeological exploration, so work is just beginning,” Navy Commander Admiral Gabriel Perez said.