8 Valuable Shipwrecks That Will Get You Interested in Sea Exploration

Humans have been sailing the seas for hundreds of thousands of years, and we have been bringing our valuables with us! It  is suspected that humans have been sailing the seas even before our species had completely evolved into the homo sapien sapiens that we are today. 700,000-800,000 year old stone tools thought to be created by homo erectus have been found as far away as Indonesia, suggesting that the species was taking to the water for intentional travel.

Such a rich history of travel by sea means that humanity has certainly seen countless shipwrecks – it’s estimated that there have been more than 3 million shipwrecks throughout human history! Uncovering treasures lost at sea is a big business these days, sometimes leading to millions, or billions, of dollars worth of pirates’ lost booty and other extravagant treasures, as well as valuable artifacts.

Join us on an underwater exploration of some of the most valuable shipwreck discoveries!

SS Gairsoppa

The SS Garisoppa, like many ships, was lost in 1941 during World War II as the result of an attack by Germans. This British ship was a particularly unfortunate loss in the war, however. Though all 32 of the sailors made it off of the ship and onto lifeboats, only one actually survived and made it to shore as the wreck was 300 miles from land. In addition to the huge loss of life, 7 million ounces of silver was lost at sea.

The hugely valuable shipwreck was finally uncovered in 2011 and became the largest precious metal recovery in history. By today’s standard the 7 million ounces of silver uncovered is worth a whopping $210 million. The recovery was performed by the US company Odyssey Marine Exploration.

silver

Queen Anne’s Revenge

Queen Anne’s Revenge was the infamous pirate Blackbeard’s flagship in the early 1700s. At 300-tons, Blackbeard added cannons to this ship making it ideal for attacking British, Dutch, and Portuguese merchant ships. The ship was run aground in 1718 near the coast of North Carolina. Though Blackbeard was able to escape himself and save some of the supplies by transferring them onto a smaller ship, much was lost in the shipwreck.

It’s hard to put a monetary value on the artifacts that have been found in the ship, as most of them have been preserved by a QAR archaeology team. Tens of thousands of artifacts of important cultural importance have been recovered so far ranging from navigation tools to storage items that give archaeologists insight to the period and pirate culture. Additionally, many more artifacts are still undersea waiting to be discovered and preserved by scientists!

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HMS Sussex

Another extremely old shipwreck is the HMS Sussex, which was lost during a storm in 1694. Only two men survived this British Navy ship wreck, which occurred half a mile from the shore near the Strait of Gibraltar. This impressive ship had only been sailing for less than a year when it sunk!

In 2004 Odyssey was given permission by the British Royal Navy to uncover the sunken ship under the condition that Odyssey funded the recovery, split the booty with the government, and hand over artifacts that the government would want to preserve or display. Unfortunately, the project was halted by the Spanish government, and has yet to resume. Hopefully we’ll see the booty from this epic treasure hunt uncovered soon!

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Tortugas

Not all shipwrecked valuables are silver and gold, and not all shipwrecks occurred in Europe! The Florida Keys have been a huge graveyard for shipwrecks, particularly post-colonial shipwrecks. The Tortugas shipwreck of 1622 is another project that has been undertaken by Odyssey Marine Exploration, making it the world’s first deep-sea recovery at 405 meters. Some of the most valuable booty to be uncovered from this project are the beautiful and detailed pottery and pearls.

pottery

Titanic

Perhaps the most famous shipwreck of all time, the Titanic was bound to be full of expensive treasures from the period due to the fact that it was carrying such wealthy and high profile people! In fact, there were more than $300 million worth of diamonds lost in the Titanic, so it’s clear why researchers would be so desperate to uncover the ship before it began to decay.

Much of the uncovered treasure from the TItanic was auctioned off last year, valued at $189 million in 2007. Check out some images of the famous auctioned treasure here!

titanic jewlery

Costa Concordia

It was said that the safety measures taken in constructing the Titanic made it unsinkable, an idea that was clearly proven wrong after the ship’s collision with an iceberg. Likewise, if you thought that more modern ships were safe from the fate of sinking, you were certainly proven wrong last year when the Costa Concordia sank off of the coast of Italy.

Over 4,000 people were onboard the cruise ship when it sank, and 30 are known to have died in the accident. While human casualties in shipwrecks are certainly more preventable and fewer than they used to be, the loss of valuable items is definitely comparable. An estimated $500 million – $1 billion worth of goods was lost when the ship sank. Luckily, Costa Concordia was insured for $513 million.

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Saint Clair wines

If the prospect of silver and gold to be uncovered in shipwrecks gets your excited, just wait until you hear about the alcohol! Just last month thousands of bottles of New Zealand-based Saint Clair cases of wine were lost at sea in a shipwreck off of the coast of Mumbai. Lucky for Saint Clair, the winery requires buyers to purchase their wines before shipping, so it wasn’t them who lost out on the investment.

Just one case of the winery’s famous 2010 Pinot Noir sells for $516 – imagine the profit’s lost in the shipwreck, and the money to be made by an investment in recovering the wine, let’s say 100 years from now?

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Heidsieck Champagne

Aged shipwrecked wines can be extremely valuable. In fact, the world’s most expensive wine was recovered from a 1916 shipwreck off of the coast of Finland. 200 bottles of Heidsieck Champagne, which was being shipped to the Russian Imperial family, was uncovered in 1997, and quickly became the world’s most valuable wine. Not only has it aged well, but it has an incredible story! Today, you can buy this wine at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow, but it’ll cost you $275,000 for a bottle!

Heidesieck Champagne

It might seem like Odyssey Marine Exploration has a monopoly on shipwrecked booty, but who can blame them for their endeavors under the sea? It seems that shipwrecked goods can be worth millions if you’re willing to go to the deeps to get them!

Would you be willing to dive for shipwrecked treasures?
Let us know in the comments!

 

Category: Financial News, Money & Entertainment, Travel

3 Comments »

  • George Ouzounis says:

    Amazing article. I wish i had the chance to search for a treasure of shipwreck!!!!!!!!!!
    Another lost shipwreck treasure is the Flor De La Mar, somewhere at the strait of Malacca, Sumatra.

    Thanks

    • BigBen says:

      The Flor De La Mar would be an awesome find, a good island to use as a search base would be Pelak. Permission and Governmental interferance could be an issue too since the artifacts are tied to history and heritage.

      It would still be worth the deep dive in orv’s and digging centuries of sediment (read fun).

      Count me in if the trip is ever funded.

  • Susie Giesbrecht says:

    Awsome! article I really wish I could have been one of the people to discover a treasure under the sea!

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