Just imagine it: back in 1708, a Spanish galleon, the San Jose, carried gold, silver, and jewels across the Caribbean Sea on an incredibly important mission. Unfortunately, tragedy struck during the voyage, and the treasure sunk to the bottom of the ocean. For centuries, the shipwreck remained on the seabed, untouched by humans. In fact, many treasure hunters referred to the San Jose and its treasure as the “holy grail of shipwrecks!”
Since it first sank back in 1708, many have tried to locate the remains of the San Jose. Finally, after over 300 years, underwater archeologists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute have discovered the lost ship. However, the discovery sparked a legal battle even more treacherous than diving deep into the ocean for sunken treasure!
1. A Tragedy
Believe it or not, the story of the discovery of the San Jose does not begin in the Caribbean Sea, as you might expect. Instead, it starts off the coast of Brazil’s northeastern coast. There, in 2009, Air France Flight 447 tragically crashed into the ocean due to mechanical errors, killing all 228 passengers and crew on board.
In cases like these, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute often help with debris recovery. A nonprofit, the large team at Woods Hole study all “marine science and engineering,” including underwater recovery and archeology. Initially, while salvage efforts to retrieve parts of the plane were successful, the aircraft’s black boxes, which record essential details remained elusive. Thankfully, in 2011, a break in the case came – one that would ultimately lead them to the San Jose…