The most well know shipwreck from the 1622 Spanish treasure Fleet is the Nuestra Senora de Atocha.
It was the summer of 1622 when an entire fleet of Spanish treasure ships sunk due to an extreme hurricane in the Florida Keys. The Atocha along with the La Santa Margarita, and the Nuestra Senora del Rosario all sunk at the same time while carrying mass amounts of treasure back to Spain. The ships were carrying wealth collected from ports such as Portobello, Havana and Cartagena. On board were such rare finds at the time as gold, silver, indigo and tobacco as well as some more private goods that are still unknown to this day. Many of these goods were smuggled on board in an attempt to hide from government taxing. Due to a number of delays the entire fleet was delayed by six weeks and left it in the open seas right in the middle of hurricane season.
The day after the fleet embarked on its journey an unprecedented hurricane struck and destroyed all of the ships within the fleet. A total of eight vessels were thrown off course and eventually sank much to the chagrin of the Spanish government. The wrecks were spread far and wide between the Dry Tortugas all the way to the Marquesas Keys. In total five small ships were lost along with the three main vessels mentioned previously. Three of the ships sunk near or around the Dry Tortugas and it is thought that two of the smaller ships, the Portuguese 117 ton Nao and the Nuestra Senora de Los Reyes were drawn off course near the East Key. It is also thought that the Rosario faltered near Loggerhead Reef and the exact location of the other ships is still unknown. On top of all these sunken ships, a few more were lost when trying to retrieve the cargo in the following weeks when yet another hurricane hit the area.
After three hundred and fifty years had passed, the National Park Service embarked on an expedition to try and discover where exactly the vessels had sunk and try to regain some of the treasure that had been lost. The expedition was directed towards the Dry Tortugas which are situated just over 70 miles away from Key West. It was that April in 1969 when many conclusions were made as to the location of the shipwrecks and estimations were made about the accompanying worth of some of the lost cargo. After years of research the Park Service was able to discover one of the shipwreck sites near Loggerhead Reef. The site was decked out with ballast rocks and other cultural artifacts from the era. While the ship was not found there was enough evidence that suggested that the vessel was in the vicinity. Many experts were quite certain that they had found a few pieces of the vessel known as the Nuestra Senora del Rosario.
After the researchers and scientists took some time to consider the findings they then relocated the area and found another site quite similar nearby. This new site was discovered less than 300 meters from the original site and lead many to believe that they may have discovered the entire lost fleet. Within the second site divers found a number of swivel guns and more Spanish artifacts. All in all the team was able to uncover over 30 unique artifacts and it was the biggest discovery of its kind for a long time. While nothing was discovered was of substantial worth it was an exciting time for treasure enthusiasts.
After a number of months searching and surveying the various artifacts, no conclusions could be made with respect to the identity of the actual Nuestra Senora del Rosario. Experts believe that it is in fact the general area where the Rosario sunk but there is no conclusive proof. The artifacts suggested that it was the site for a Spanish boat but there was not enough evidence to conclude that exact vessel. The site suggested that it was the spot of a large ship and the Rosario was one of the largest ships of its time.
With respect to the guns that were found there is a lot of mystery as well. Some people believe that the location where the guns were found could be a completely separate ship altogether. There is a distinct gap between the sites where the vessels are believed to have sunk and the spot where the guns were discovered. While no one is certain it may be proven that the site where the guns were found could be a completely different shipwreck site.