FORT PIERCE (FOX 13) - A great wealth lay buried beneath the water on Florida’s Treasure Coast, and the Schmitt family is lured to the thrill of the hunt.
"I think we've proved in the last couple of years that there could be money to be made from it,” Rick Schmitt told us.
Rick is the head of Florida’s treasure hunting family. And on-board their vessel, the Arrrh Booty, the adventure begins.
In 1715, a fleet of Spanish ships sank during a hurricane just off the Florida Coast, taking with them a king's ransom in gold, silver, and other artifacts now spread out on the sea floor.
"A lot of people don't understand that when these 11 ships went down, the entire history of the world changed," Rick said. And the Schmitt family is eager to cash in.
In the summer of 2015, the crew made their biggest find to date: 51 gold coins, including one that's the most valuable coin that has ever been found. They also recovered close to 90 feet of handmade 24-carat gold chain over 300 years old – all more than a million dollars in treasure and historic relics plucked from the sea.
The state of Florida gets 20 percent of the unique artifacts to share with the public, and what's left, the Schmitts split 50-50 with a company called Queens Jewels LLC, which owns the rights to the wreckage.
The lure of untold riches can break some families apart. But for these fortune seekers there's more to their lifestyle than money.
"It's not all about the treasure. It's always about the history. When you put on a necklace or a ring, someone has not touched that for 300 years. You're honoring the life of those people who did pass away in those voyages," Rick’s daughter Lisa explained.
The family is holding history in the palm of their hands, and always looking for more.
To see behind-the-scenes video from the Booty Salvage crew and find out about their latest adventures, click over to https://www.facebook.com/BootySalvage/