Mel Fisher Maritime Museum
Key West, Florida, USA
- The 1622 Fleet: Spanish galleons, part of a fleet of 28 ships laden with treasure, lay wrecked on the ocean floor until discovered and recovered by Mel Fisher.
- Henrietta Marie: This poignant reconstructed vessel and the African Cemetery are powerful insights into the transatlantic slave trade and the role Key West played.
- Priceless treasures: Be dazzled by precious coins, gold bars, and jewel-encrusted items, all recovered from sunken wrecks andndash; and worth more than $20 million.
- Conservation in action: Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum's 2,000-square-foot lab that specializes in conserving underwater archaeological artifacts.
About this Key West, Florida tour
It was the shipwreck of the century. Twenty-eight ships set off from Havana in 1622, bound for Spain and carrying the wealth of an empire; silver from Peru and Mexico, gold and emeralds from Colombia, and pearls from Venezuela. As they entered the Florida straits, a violent hurricane struck the fleet. It left eight vessels broken on the ocean floor, their treasures scattered from the Marquesas Keys to the Dry Tortugas.
In 1969, Mel Fisher and his Treasure Salvors began their quest to find the ship Atocha. They spent long years following the wreck's elusive trail, sometimes finding nothing for months, then recovering bits of treasure that teasingly indicated they were close to the ship and its cargo. Their persistence paid off in 1973, when they discovered three silver bars matching the weights and tally numbers found on Atocha's manifest, which had been found in Seville. Fisher knew the major wreck site was near.
In 1975, his son Dirk unearthed five bronze cannons whose markings clinched identification of the Atocha. But only days later, Dirk, his wife, and a diver died when a salvage boat capsized. Yet Fisher and his intrepid crew persevered. By 1980, they had found a portion of the Santa Margarita and her fortune. Then in 1985, Fisher's son Kane sent a jubilant message: "Put away the charts; we've found the main pile!" At long last, the Atocha's "mother lode" had been found.
Top archaeologists and conservators teamed up to excavate and preserve the find a task that took many more patient years. Today, treasures from the Atocha and Margarita; artifacts that had lain on the ocean floor for three and a half centuries are the cornerstone of this museum's collection. And a tribute to the vision of a man and his sons.
A historical gold mine
The English merchant-slaver Henrietta Marie sank off Key West in 1700, shortly after delivering 190 captive Africans in Jamaica. The wreck, found in the 1970s, has yielded shackles and rare artifacts its valuable "treasure" is the wealth of information about the maritime slave trade and roots of racial inequality. Today, a bronze marker facing the African shore commemorates the courage and suffering of enslaved African people.
Please proceed to Mel Fisher Maritime Museum at 200 Greene Street, Key West, FL. 33040.
This tour is self-guided.
To fully participate may require leisurely walking over primarily even surfaces. There may be a limited number of steps and some standing for extended periods of time. Tour is wheelchair accessible.
Ticket, Family Friendly
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated mild. To participate fully, you may be required to walk over primarily even surfaces at a leisurely pace. You may encounter a limited number of steps, cobblestones, or uneven surfaces, and you may have to stand for extended periods of time.
Suitable for all ages. Children under 6 years of age participate free of charge.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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