In 1622, a Spanish galleon called the Santa Margarita got caught in a hurricane and sank in 1622. Bound for Spain, the ship carried many treasures. In 1980, the sunken Santa Margarita was found by a shipwreck salvor named Mel Fisher who discovered it about 40 miles west of Key West. The ship was buried in the ocean floor in about 18 feet of water. There, they initially found a bunch of treasure and artifacts from the 17th century. Last week, they found even more.

Divers from Blue Water Ventures of Key West found a small, lead box on Friday that contained thousands of pearls. The box, measuring 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches was sealed tightly. Also found was a gold bar, eight gold chains, and several other artifacts. The pearls measured from an eighth of an inch to three quarters of an inch. These are an especially exciting find because pearls are known to be unable to survive in ocean water once they are out of the oyster. However, inside the lead box, silt that had sifted into the box preserved the pearls for such a long time. The pearls plan to be conserved, documented, and photographed in an archaeological laboratory above the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West.

Fisher, who runs the Mel Fisher company in a joint partnership with Motivation Inc., has been surveying and excavating the treasures of the Santa Margarita since its discovery. His focus is on the search for archaeological clues and historical information to determine how the ship crashed. He enlisted the help of R. Duncan Mathewson III, Ph.D. and Eugene Lyon Ph.D. to help salvage the ship, and it appears that they have had their wishes fulfilled.

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