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Sunken treasure worth $17 billion on 300-year-old shipwreck discovered off Colombian coast 

Perhaps the “holy grail of shipwrecks” has been positively identified in the waters off Cartegena, Colombia, with a treasure of gold, silver and emeralds aboard valued at $17 billion. 

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The San José was a 62-gun Spanish galleon that went down in 1708 during a fierce battle with British ships in the War of Spanish Succession. It was the distinctive and ornate dolphins engraved on the ship’s cannons that helped identify her.

The wreck was first discovered in 2015 in 2,000 feet of water by a team of international scientists and engineers during an expedition aboard the Colombian Navy research ship ARC Malpelo

The Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, or WHOI, helped positively identify the ship, and was just given permission to talk about how it helped pinpoint the shipwreck using an autonomous underwater vehicle. 

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The wreck was partially covered in sediment, but with the camera images from WHOI’s autonomous underwater vehcile, the crew was able to see new details, such as ceramics and other artifacts. (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

“The REMUS 6000 was the ideal tool for the job, since it’s capable of conducting long-duration missions over wide areas,” WHOI engineer and expedition leader Mike Purcell said in a statement.

The discovery of the legendary wreck is so significant, the Colombian government plans to build a museum dedicated to the San José and its contents, including cannons, ceramics and other artifacts, according to a WHOI statement.

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