About Shipwreck Silver
The Whydah Gally (commonly known simply as the Whydah or Whidah, and rarely, written as Whidaw, or Whido) was a fully rigged galley ship that was originally built as a slave ship for the Atlantic slave trade. On the return leg of its second voyage of the triangle trade, it began a new role in the Golden Age of Piracy, when it was captured by the pirate Captain "Black Sam" Bellamy, and was refitted as his flagship.
Two months later, on April 26, 1717, the ship ran aground and capsized during a strong gale force storm off of Cape Cod, taking Bellamy, 143 of his crew, and over 4.5 short tons (4.1 tonnes) of gold and silver with it, leaving only two survivors to tell its tale. Whydah and her treasure eluded discovery for over 260 years until 1984, when the wreck was found – under just 14 feet (4.3 m) of water and 5 feet (1.5 m) of sand – becoming the first authenticated pirate shipwreck ever to be discovered.
The Comet was first dubbed a "true treasure ship" by shipwreck historian Frederick Stonehouse in 1973. When she sank, her vessel was valued at $45,000 and the cargo at $50,000. The Sault Evening News of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan announced in 1980 that the Comet was the “only known treasure ship on the bottom of the lake” when interviewing Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society spokesperson Tom Farnquist.
The Comet carried 500 tons of pig iron, some copper ore, 54 sacks of wool, and 70 tons of Montana silver ore picked up at Duluth and consigned to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Efforts to salvage the Comet’s cargo failed in 1876 and again in 1938 when the wreck could not be found. The Comet’s wreck was extensively filmed and salvaged by the GLSHS in the 1980s.
Mel Fisher (August 21, 1922 – December 19, 1998) was an American treasure hunter best known for finding the 1622 wreck of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha named after a shrine in Madrid for protection. He discovered the wreck July 20, 1985. The estimated $450 million cache recovered, known as "The Atocha Motherlode," included 40 tons of gold and silver; there were some 114,000 of the Spanish silver coins known as "pieces of eight", gold coins, Colombian emeralds, gold and silver artifacts, and 1000 silver ingots. Large as it was, this was only roughly half of the treasure that went down with the Atocha.
The wealthiest part of the ship, the stern castle, is yet to be found. Still missing are 300 silver bars and 8 bronze cannons, among other things. In addition to the Atocha, Fisher's company, Salvors Inc., found remains of several shipwrecks in Florida waters, including the Atocha's sister galleon the Santa Margarita, lost in the same year, and the remains of a slave ship known as the Henrietta Marie.