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Florida family uncovers $300K in Spanish gold

10:59 PM, Sep 3, 2013   |    comments
This screenshot from the Facebook page of Booty Salvage Inc. shows the Schmitt family's recent $300,000 haul of Spanish gold.(Photo: Schmitt family via Facebook)
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By Matt Cantor, Newser

A 65-year-old Florida man has spent his life searching for treasure off the coast-and Rick Schmitt and his family have just made their biggest-ever discovery.

Some 150 yards off the coast of Fort Pierce, and about 15 feet underwater, the Schmitt family found 64 feet of gold chain, five gold coins, and a gold ring; the haul has been valued at an estimated $300,000, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The gold is about 300 years old, leftover from 11 Spanish ships that went down in a hurricane in 1715, earning the area the nickname "Treasure Coast."

It's a huge find for Schmitt, whose 20-year-old daughter recounts summers aboard the family's boats (first the Booty Quest, now the AARRR Booty) spent recovering undersea treasure like ... beer cans. Last Labor Day, the family dredged up just one gold coin. But there have been some big finds in the past. In 2002, Schmitt's son found a three-centuries-old silver platter worth $25,000.

As for the newest haul, the state of Florida gets to keep up to 20% of the treasure for museum display; the Schmitt family and the company that holds local diving rights will share the rest. It's the second coup of the summer for that company, which announced a big find in July.

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