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Owlscrying

Thousands of pearls found in 1622 shipwreck

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June 16

KEY WEST, Fla. — Salvagers discovered thousands of pearls Friday in a small, lead box they said they found while searching for the wreckage of the 17th-century Spanish galleon Santa Margarita.

Divers from Blue Water Ventures of Key West said they found the sealed box, measuring 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches, along with a gold bar, eight gold chains and hundreds of other artifacts earlier this week.

They were apparently buried beneath the ocean floor in approximately 18 feet of water about 40 miles west of Key West.

"There are several thousand pearls starting from an eighth of an inch to three-quarters of an inch," said Duncan Mathewson, marine archaeologist and partner in Blue Water Ventures.

James Sinclair, archaeologist, said the pearls are very rare because of their antiquity and condition.

Sinclair said pearls don't normally survive the ocean water once they are out of the oyster that makes them.

"In this instance, we had a lead box and the silt that had sifted into the box from the site of the Margarita, which preserved the pearls in a fairly pristine state," he said.

The ship was bound for Spain when it sank in a hurricane in 1622.

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wow that's incredible, I would've loved to have been one of those discoverers. Not for the money but for the excitement.

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Wow, a 3/4 inch pearl is HUGE. I have an 8mm akoya pearl and it's pretty big... but 3/4 of an inch? Holy smokes.

Cool, I'd love to see them, pearls are one of my favorite gemstones.

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very interesting man.....

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