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Spanish Colonial olive jars in-situ on the "Tortugas"  wreck site
A mariner's astrolabe is recovered from the "Tortugas"  wreck site
Artifacts from the "Tortugas" wreck site

"Tortugas" Project Overview

The presence of a shipwreck in deep waters off the Dry Tortugas, a group of islands located at the westernmost point of the Florida Keys, first gained attention in 1965 when the shrimp trawler Trade Winds snagged in its nets various metal artifacts, pieces of ship’s rigging and an ornately carved railing. Also ensnared were three large intact pottery amphorae later identified as colonial-era Spanish olive jars used for the storage and shipment of various goods.

At the time, the depth of the water made exploration of the site impractical. Located over 1,300 feet (405 meters) below the ocean surface, the "Tortugas" wreck was later discovered by Odyssey Marine Exploration co-founders and deep-ocean shipwreck exploration pioneers, Greg Stemm and John Morris.


Historically, the "Tortugas" excavation was the world's first deep-ocean remotely-operated archaeological excavation of a shipwreck site. Nearly 17,000 artifacts, including some as small as seeds and pearls, were recovered from the site during the 1990-1991 excavation seasons. Research suggests the "Tortugas" wreck is likely the remains of the 117-ton Buen Jesus Nuestra Senor de Rosario, one of the vessels sailing with the 1622 Tierra Firme treasure fleet bound for Spain loaded with the wealth of the New World.



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