Underwatertimes.com News Service - March 26, 2009 17:11 EST

For the first time, adventure-hungry certified divers can work alongside professional treasure salvage experts excavating the wrecksite of the , one of the most significant shipwreck discoveries of the 20th century.

The weeklong Atocha Dive Adventure includes training in commercial treasure salvage techniques, behind-the-scenes tours of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and laboratories where Atocha artifacts are conserved and two full days of diving the site alongside salvage experts seeking the galleon's sterncastle. The first adventure is scheduled Monday through Sunday, June 8-14.

Approximately $400 million of the Atocha's treasure and a significant portion of the vessel's structure were discovered in 1985 by the late shipwreck salvor Mel Fisher, submerged in approximately 55 feet of water 35 miles southwest of Key West.

Crews led by Fisher's family continue to search for the ship's sterncastle and the gold and silver bars and coins that are listed on the Atocha's manifest but remain undiscovered.

The Atocha Dive Adventure, created by the Fisher family and Mel Fisher's Treasures of Key West, gives recreational divers a never-before-offered chance to be part of the historic search.

"This is the first time we are offering the public an opportunity to explore the working Atocha site and actually assist our crew finding treasure and artifacts," said Sean Fisher, grandson of Mel Fisher and vice-president of Mel Fisher's Treasures.

Any participating diver who discovers gold, silver or artifacts will be awarded a previously conserved Atocha piece of equal value, up to $2,500, from the Fisher family's private collection.

As well as diving the Atocha site, the weeklong adventure package includes a private room and bath in an Old Town Key West vacation home, training and checkout dives on the Keys' living coral reef, a wine lovers' sunset sail and gatherings with the Fisher family and crew. The package is available throughout the summer dive season.

Cost for the week is $2,500 per person. Nondiving companions can share a room with a participating diver, enjoy all nondiving activities and receive a Key West attractions "passport" for $500 per person.

For more information, including available dates, contact Shawn Cowles of Mel Fisher's Treasures at (305) 294-5441 or scowles@melfisher.com. For more information about the Atocha search, visit www.melfisher.com.