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Rare Gold Toothpick And Earwax Scoop Recovered From Florida Shipwreck; 'What A Way To Start The New Season!'
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KEY WEST, Florida -- The crew of the historic shipwreck search and recovery vessel Blue Water Rose pulled into port Sunday with an extraordinary discovery – a solid gold early 17th Century grooming tool consisting of both toothpick and earwax scoop.

The ornate artifact, which resembles a scimitar and measures about 3 inches long, was discovered at a depth of 22 feet by crew diver Chris Rackley. Both functional and ornamental, it would have been worn on a golden chain by a high ranking person.

“What a way to start the new season!” exclaimed Keith Webb, President and CEO of Blue Water Ventures Key West (BWVKW). “The Captain and crew worked hard through the winter to prepare the vessels for this season and the area we are now searching is the most northern that gold has been found. Excitement is particularly intense because we ended last season on such a high note, with the discovery of gold bars and chains, some exceedingly rare silver coins, and a lead box containing 16,184 pearls valuing approximately $12 million.”

Over the last three years, BWVKW, a joint venture partner of Mel Fisher’s Treasures, has been searching – and finding - in an area near the Marqueses Keys in the Florida Straits, where the 480 ton, 1622 Fleet Spanish galleon Santa Margarita is known to have been destroyed in a fierce storm, taking down with her 143 passengers and crew and a fortune in treasures.

Project partner and marine archaeologist Dr. R. Duncan Mathewson III was on the dock Sunday to greet the returning crew and to examine the rare artifact. “Similar artifacts have been found on shipwrecks, but none as elaborate or well persevered as this, and to my immediate knowledge, none from a shipwreck as early as the Santa Margarita,” commented Mathewson. “This artifact is exquisitely crafted, clearly a dragon motif, with stylistic ornamentation that suggests Chinese workmanship. It also has a very clear human image. Its uniqueness is based upon the fact that as far as anyone knows, no major museum around the world has anything that can be compared to this exquisite baroque period artifact.”

Since the 1980’s, various searchers have sought the remains of the legendary Santa Margarita, but none with as much success as the current operation, founded by Webb. Webb coordinated a joint venture partnership to undertake the project, secured the most up-to-date technology, and recruited some of the foremost experts in the field, including Mathewson, noted historian Dr. Eugene Lyon, and historic shipwreck search and recovery specialist Dan Porter.

Because the Santa Margarita was battered and broken apart in the storm, its cargo was distributed over an extensive area and now lies scattered and hidden. It is known from archival records that over 800 ounces of registered gold, 145 silver bars weighing between 80 and 100 pounds each, and more than 80,000 silver coins from the Santa Margarita still await discovery. But artifacts such as this and last season’s pearls, having been personal possessions and not listed on the official ships manifest, are the Santa Margarita’s secret treasures.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

5 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

Nice how they wouldn't give me a contract (like the liars they are), so I took ONE of the pearls I found, and ended up getting none of them, and a Federal case. Maybe if the company wasn't run by crooks I would get what was promised to me. If I was supposed to get 1% of the take, then I took one of my own pearls... so where are the rest, liars. Way to go C. Rackley, and the rest of you are pieces of crap. Bring me my share like you said you would. If you were the kind of people who did what they said, I never would have done that crap in the first place. Now you get to sully my name, and rip me off, and eveyone just goes on like nothing happened. Weeeeeee Today's the Day.... You suck, and you can bet that this is not over. Liars.
   comment# 1   - Mike Dodd · St Pete, USA · May 31, 2008 @ 7:36pm

http://www.northcountrygazette.org/2008/05/16/pearl_stealing/ Friday, 16 of May , 2008 at 6:36 pm MIAMI—A salvage diver has pleaded guilty to stealing 21 pearls during a salvage operation. Michael T. Dodd has been sentenced to a year of probation and 100 hours of community service after admitting that he stole the pearls which he recovered while he was employed by Mel Fisher’s Treasures, LLC. Dodd was charged in a criminal information with purloining personal property within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States. According to statements made in open court and the criminal information filed in the case, Dodd was a salvage diver for the Fisher organization, diving on the wreck of the Santa Margarita. In June 2007, Dodd secured possession of approximately 21 pearls recovered from a box salvaged from the Santa Margarita. In court, he admitted to unlawfully keeping the pearls which he intended to make into a gift for his girlfriend. The Santa Margarita is under a court salvage order in the Southern District of Florida. FBI agents recovered the pearls from Dodd in January and returned them to the rightful owner, Mel Fisher’s Treasures, LLC. 5-16-08
   comment# 2   - For the record · Miami, FL · Jun 1, 2008 @ 6:41am

The one that works the hardest always profits the least. Sorry to hear about this Mike.
   comment# 3   - Kim Cullen · Stuarts Draft, USA · Oct 11, 2008 @ 6:01am

Next time watch what you say and do, Mike. And be kind to your siblings no matter what.
   comment# 4   - Torri Jensen · Stuarts Drart, USA · Mar 12, 2009 @ 2:03pm

Mike, had you given the owners of the company you worked for a chance to give you a division before you STOLE from them, you would have found you would have had a lot more than 21 pearls to give your girlfriend.
   comment# 5   - Sean Fisher · Key West Fl · Apr 6, 2009 @ 12:19pm
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