found The Nuestra Senora de Atocha on July 20, 1985 ~ sunk in 1622
Mel Fischer passed away in Florida on December 19, 1998
Mel was honored at a large memorial service
at his Museum December 29, 1998. A private ceremony will later spread his ashes over the "Bank of Spain" - a 7.5 mile trail of
artifact-laden ocean bottom that led to the eventual discovery of
the mother lode of Nuestra Senora de la Atocha, the Spanish
galleon Fisher's company located and salvaged. (Source: CyberConch Zine 1-08-99 Issue #177)
The Atocha (Nuestra Senora de Atocha ~ Our Lady of Atocha) tragically ended her voyage on a reef of the Florida Keys on September 6, 1622, taking with her 264 souls many of whom were of royal blood. She scattered over 47 troy tons of treasure on over 50 miles of ocean bottom. There were only 5 people to survive the wreck. Ironically, Mel Fisher was born almost 300 years to the day that the Atocha went down. His obsession for the Atocha treasure has lasted over 20 years. During this time Mel found himself selling off other treasures that he had found, trying to get other people to invest in his dream - fighting off bill collectors, power and utilities cut-offs. He could not even pay his own divers at times. Mel was forever going to court to keep other salvage companies away from the wreck area. The biggest tragedy was the death of Mel's son Dirk, Dirk's wife and another crew member. This happened when his salvage boat "The Northwind" sank over The Atocha wreck site on July 20, 1975. Mel Fisher continued on his search despite all the financial problems and the death of family and friends. After more than 15 years, he found the mother lode on July 20, 1985.