Researchers have made a lucrative discovery identified as the "holy grail" of shipwrecks off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. It carries a treasure worth about $17 billion, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution reports.
The ship we are talking about is the 310-year-old Spanish galleon San Jose, which wrecked in the Caribbean Sea during a 1708 battle with the British in the War of the Spanish Succession. San Jose was carrying tons of valuable gold, silver, and emeralds, now scattered over 2,000 feet below the sea.
The exact location of the ship was identified by a submarine drone Remus 6000 operated by engineers from Woods Hole. The Remus 6000 is owned by the Ray Dalio - hedge fund billionaire, and he has decided to keep this location a secret.
The ship was found in 2015, but researchers kept it a secret. When the team from Woods Hole revisited the site with the autonomous submarine, they discovered cannons engraved with dolphins — an indication that the ship was the San Jose.
"I just sat there for about 10 minutes and smiled," Jeff Kaeli, a Woods Hole engineer said. "So at that moment, I guess I was the only person in the world who knew we'd found the shipwreck."
The valuable treasure may open up a conflict over who the true owner is. Both Spain and Colombia have claimed it. The researchers who discovered the wreck have announced they aren't getting involved in an ownership dispute.
"It's a piece of history that's sitting on the sea floor that tells a story," Kaeli said.
In recent years, remotely operated submarines like the Remus 6000 have helped researchers discover shipwrecks across over the world, including in the Gulf of Mexico.
"You can take bigger risks with your technology and go to places where it wouldn't be safe or feasible to put a human being," Kaeli said.