Inside hunt for one of world's most valuable shipwrecks dubbed 'El Dorado of the Sea' with '£1bn in gold' off UK coast | The Sun
EXPERTS have spent decades hunting for one of the world's most valuable shipwrecks that could have £1billion in gold onboard.
Dubbed the "El Dorado of the Sea" an English ship named the Merchant Royal sank off the coast of Cornwall leaving behind an incredible amount of riches.
The precious ship along with its cargo has never been seen since its untimely demise.
The actual price of the mysterious wreckage varies in amounts as no one has ever really seen what lies within the ship.
Figures range from around £20billion to £250million but most people use £1billion as a ballpark amount.
Whatever the actual number it was believed to have been worth at least one-third of England's entire public fund at the time
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On board at the time of its sinking is thought to be 100,000 lbs of gold, 400 bars of Mexican silver and almost 500,000 'pieces of eight', or Spanish dollars.
As well as the crews personal goods there would've been gold, money and other valuable pieces left to rust.
The 700-ton ship had a crew of 80 seaman and a boatload of passengers at any given time.
While docked in Cadiz on a normal trading journey, the captain of the Merchant saw a ship set on fire and realised he had a great opportunity to get even more treasure on board.
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He offered to carry the goods to Antwerp for the Spanish as they went past England to make a little extra money.
The extra cargo and longer route proved disastrous as dodgy leaks started to appear.
On its final ever journey the ship’s hull started gushing with water as more leaks broke loose.
With rough and stormy seas and poor pumps, the ship took on more and more water until the mega vessel sank in 1641.
Eighteen of the lucky crewmembers onboard were rescued by another ship as the others tragically died.
The captain was left a broken man after his proud boat vanished under the sea.
It's believed that almost all of the valuable treasure was left and has been untouched in the 382 years since.
Arguments over what really lays on the sea floor have gone on for centuries as experts disagree on how much gold was really left.
A leaflet from 1641 held in the British Library describes the Merchant Royal as having gone down with "300000 in ready boliogne and 100,000 pound in gold and as much value in jewels".
Charles I’s state papers from the same year also discussed the wreckage and described the loss of the cargo as "the greatest that was ever sustained in one ship, being worth 400,000 pounds at least".
The controversy comes over what the "pounds" mean – some believe it simply means the amount in cash where as hopeful researchers read it as a measurement of weight.
Several salvage teams have tried to recover the wreck over the years but no one has had any success yet.
The closest anyone has come is a fishing vessel called the Spirited Lady who found an anchor in 2019, potentially used by the Merchant Royal.
The ship was nicknamed after El Dorado – a mythical city led by an Amazonian king who coated his body in gold dust before plunging into a nearby lake as he was showered with gold and jewels.
Earlier this year a never-before-seen 17th century shipwreck was discovered.
The ship carried future Kings of England and was found buried in the sand, untouched for 350 years.
Divers were only just able to spot the anchor, rope and cannon and the eerie remains have now been photographed over 2,000 times.
Another abandoned shipwreck with £16billion worth of treasure is about to be recovered from the sea 300 years after it was sunk during a battle with a British squadron.
Dubbed the "holy grail of shipwrecks" the legendary San Jose Galleon is finally due to be taken out of the Caribbean Sea by the Colombian governemnt.
The location of the ship is a complete secret with rumours suggesting only the very top members of Colombian parliament know the exact coordinates.
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Across the UK, 52 different shipwrecks are protected and preserved with only five of these being allowed to be seen.
Only divers with a license under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 can go searching for the lost goods and explore what lies beneath the sea.
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