Lost fleet's riches beckon hunters

By John A.Torres

More Indiana Jones-like mythology fills the state's high security vault than Spanish doubloons or pirate's booty.

Recent media reports, as well as a state legislator's attempt to sell off Florida's salvaged treasure to offset budget cuts, have fueled grandiose images of the public gold holdings.

They're not accurate, says Ryan Wheeler, Florida's chief archaeologist, as the warmer weather and calmer waters of May mark the unofficial start to the treasure hunting season.

"There is a myth that we have all this stuff that we don't show people," he said from his Tallahassee office. "Everyone bought into this notion that we have a secret treasure room."

Wheeler, head of the state's Bureau of Archaeological Research, said the state's estimated $17 million in salvaged gold is usually nowhere near the protected storage area.


FLORIDA Tallahassee Bureau of Archaeological Research Ryan Wheeler Spanish doubloons