A more than 300-year-old Spanish shipwreck carrying treasure that might be worth up to $17 billion was discovered with the help of an underwater robot. It’s called the Remus 6000 and it can dive nearly four miles and is loaded with sensors and cameras. Bronze cannons confirmed “the holy grail of shipwrecks” had been found at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. They are engraved with dolphins — a telltale sign they belong to the Spanish galleon San Jose, lost more than 300 years ago.
“I just sat there for about 10 minutes and smiled,” said Jeff Kaeli, a research engineer with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Kaeli was alone in his bunk on the search vessel when he spotted the cannons. “I’m not a marine archaeologist, but … I know what a cannon looks like. So in that moment, I guess I was the only person in the world who knew we’d found the shipwreck,” he said.
The exact location of the wreckage is still a secret, but it was discovered in November 2015 off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. Its cargo of gold, silver, and emeralds could be worth as much as $17 billion.