Posted by: adventuressetravels | January 3, 2012

Today’s Treasure Hunters

The glitter of gold, the sparkle of jewels, and the haunting

call of the past.  Is there anything more tantalizing then the promise of sunken treasure?   The words just

paint pictures of riches, piracy, and intrigue.

On the 3rd of July, guests had already started arriving for the ranger’s big 4th of July blowout, but I couldn’t join in

the festivities just yet.  I was scheduled to volunteer at McLarty Treasure museum.
The museum is built on the site of the survivors’ camp of the disastrous shipwreck of 1715. On that fateful night, 11 Spanish galleons sank off the coast of Florida, which would fuel hopes, dreams, and imaginations for centuries to come.  This is why this stretch of Florida’s west coast is also known as the Treasure Coast. museum.


Since I had started volunteering at Sebastian Inlet State Park, I had heard tales

of beach combers finding ice-cube-sized emeralds, and divers finding treasure.  Other volunteers had no doubt that there was still treasure off of Florida’s Treasure Coast.  New discoveries happened all the time.

Even after working in the museum for a month, I was still skeptical.  On July 3rd, that all changed.

I was sitting behind the clear display case when a jovial open-faced  man walked in.  It was a busy day, Fourth of July weekend, but when I told him that a ticket to the museum was $2 he smiled and stepped aside for other visitors to buy their tickets.



The man waited until I was free before introducing himself with a broad smile and a firm handshake.  He was Mike Brown, a treasure hunter with the Great Bounds Gold Hound Treasure Divers and wanted to stop by and update the museum on the latest discoveries.

Eyes sparkling, the diver fished out a stack of photographs from his bag.   Pictures of his latest finds.

Brown has been diving for 30 years, and diving for treasure for the past 4.  He works on contract with the Gold Hound Treasure Divers searching for sunken riches off of the coast of Florida.  For Brown, the treasure doesn’t seem to be dwindling.  Quite the contrary, Mike’s finds just keep getting better.  Hardly a week goes by without someone coming in with treasure.  He discovered his richest finds just this year.

Five of the eleven galleons that sank  remain unaccounted for.  Still more exciting is that the ships that are MIA are the richest ships and filled to the brim with millions in treasure.


Saturday, June 18th, 2011 was the Brown’s best day to date.  He found an officer’s sword with the solid silver braided handle almost undamaged, and two rare gold coins.  The first picture of the sword handle pictured looked like a black pewter sword handle at best.  Then Brown revealed the shining polished handle.  It remained intact, down to the braiding on the handle.

Silver is exciting, but finding gold… now that is a different level entirely.  Gold doesn’t tarnish, fade, or get obscured by sea creatures growing on it.  Brown had been searching for the elusive gold coins for 30 years before he found his first and the rush of emotion was everything he hoped it would be.  Not only did he find more common gold coins, but he found two extremely rare gold escudos in fantastic condition.   His find was even featured on the cover of a leading treasure magazine.

The lure is undeniable; treasure-heavy ships sank in shallow waters; barely 10-12 feet of water… and just off the coast.  It is tantalizing.  But as easy as it seems, treasure hunting is not for the weekend snorkeler.  Time has buried the wrecks under 10 feet of sand where they rest on the ocean bedrock.


Commercial treasure boats like Brown’s carry huge machines that clear the ocean floor by blowing the upper layer away to reveal what lies beneath years of sand and ocean growth.  But even so, treasure hunting is not for the faint of heart.  Though the day may be sunny, beneath the waves it is another world.

Pitch black, with visibility barely a few feet in front of one’s face, divers must rely upon hearing, feel, and their Aqua-pulse underwater metal detectors.

Blowing sand off the bottom doesn’t merely churn up sand.  It also stirs up food, and this brings the predators.  I have heard time and time again that humans are not in a shark’s food chain, but when visibility is poor, and there are appetizers swimming all around then all bets are off.

On one dive Brown felt his flipper catch on something.  He pulled to free it, and realized that he was missing half a flipper.  The other half was somewhere in a tiger shark’s stomach.  But to enthusiasts like Brown the finds make it worth every second of danger.


Though diving in dark waters can be an adventure, it takes determination, the right equipment, and a healthy sprinkling of luck.  This is fantastic for people like Brown, for the dabblers finding treasure on the beach seems much more fun.
After a hurricane is the best time to search because the high waves stir up the hidden wealth buried under the sand.   If you’re in Central Florida why not stop by McLarty?  You can learn about a fascinating chapter of history and hear about the best beaches to go treasure hunting.  Who knows… you may just find your fortune.The same day that Brown visited McLarty so did a man and his elderly mother.  She told me how she had been walking on the beach several days before and had found two silver coins.  Elated she told me it was the first treasure she had found, but she had taken them to an expert who had confirmed her find.


The McLarty Treasure Museum  is open daily from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

It is located in Sebastian Inlet State Park at – 13180 North A1A



  1. The kid in me (which never really went away) SO wants to a treasure hunter.

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