Senora De La Tocha - World's richest treasure ship

 The largest payload of treasure ever found is the Senora De La Tocha. This ship followed the path of many galleons to the ocean floor. Not surprisingly a hurricane wrecked the boat. Surprisingly, one of the biggest reasons for sinking was the sheer amount of precious metals literally weighed the vessel down. Her booty laid waiting on the ocean floor awaiting discovery. One man dreamed the dream of one day finding the world’s richest treasure ship.

Enter Mel Fisher

When you think treasure ships and the people who find them an Indiana chicken farmer unlikely fits the description. Mel opened a diving shop in California and eventually drifted to the keys. He developed an interest in the Tocha and her treasures that fits description as obsessive. He literally spent several decades setting out on all his free time, using all his money while muttering to himself “Today’s the day.”

A High Price

Mel’s obsession ran high. Many late nights of hunting the famed treasure ship took a toll. Perhaps the saddest moment came when his son, their daughter in law and a diver died when one of the boats capsized. Perhaps most amazingly the horrifying lost served only to push Mel forward. He would dedicate his hunt not just for the treasure but to those lost in the search.

Legal Issue

After being laughed at for the kooky pursuit of treasure ships for several decades Mel finally found the wreckage of the Tocha’s sister ship and finally the mother lode. In the end the fortune estimated at over a half BILLION dollars. Not surprisingly several interest became involved. These include the original owners of the fortune. Mel had found the wreck, but to keep it he would have to fight an entire nation.

Settling the Score

Perhaps it was Mel’s tenacity, his stubbornness, or just plain American sense of pragmatic but he finally defeated an entire country. The US courts ruled that he could keep the entire wreck minus twenty percent given to museums and other such cultural institutions. Mel founded a museum that allows visitors to lift and handle treasures. The size of the wreckage resulted in a decade’s long recovery still in progress. Among treasure hunters, whether by ship or shovel, Mel’s motto of “today’s the day” is uttered. It even graves T-shirts you will see in the Florida Keys.