The Search For Spanish Shipwreck Off Amelia Island

Marine archaeologists returned to search mode this summer in the seas off Amelia Island, searching for a Spanish shipwreck, the San Miguel.

Amelia Research & Recovery, Polly-L
Amelia Research & Recovery, The Polly-L, Fernandina Harbor

Summertime Exploration

The 3-legged Polly-L is the high-tech ship of Amelia Research & Recovery, led by Doug Pope. The treasure hunters were in search mode this summer, continuing their pursuit of a Spanish shipwreck, the San Miguel, lost over 300 years ago in 1715. Its valuable cargo is worth billions, if ever found.

The Hunt For Long Lost San Miguel

The Polly-L research vessel had been a noticeable fixture downtown (pictured above), just off the Fernandina Beach Harbor Marina, this spring. But then it moved, relocating to Atlantic waters off Amelia Island’s south end. It was seen from the shoreline (pictured below), in the vicinity of Amelia Island Plantation and Amelia Island State Park.

Amelia Research & Recovery Treasure Hunting Off Amelia Island's South End
Amelia Research & Recovery Treasure Hunting Off Amelia Island’s South End

“Pope believes the San Miguel made it up to Amelia Island in efforts to escape a hurricane of 1715 that downed the other ships in its fleet. Or else it crashed to the south along the 40 miles of the eastern shoreline between here and St. Augustine.

But there is substantial proof of its whereabouts — through remnants found near the south end of Amelia Island. Some of the findings include a jewelers’ furnace (that came up in a shrimper’s net) and cannons and gold coins. All circumstantial evidence of a Spanish ship having been nearby.

Quote from past article by Steve Nicklas, published in April, 2013.
Amelia Island Maritime Museum Jewelers' Furnace Found In Seas Off Amelia Island
Maritime Museum: Jewelers’ Furnace Found Off Amelia Island

Maritime Museum of Amelia Island

Amelia Research & Recovery has its own museum in downtown Fernandina Beach. This summer, with family visiting from out of town, we wandered in took a look through the exhibits at the Maritime Museum of Amelia Island. The jewelers’ furnace mentioned above (and pictured), is just one of many artifacts within display cases that line the museum.

Treasure Worth Billions

This jewelers’ furnace, said to be “the only one like it in the world,” is an intriguing discovery. Apparently, the furnace“would have been with the royal jewels, which is the queen’s dowry,” according to Billy Taylor, of the Maritime Museum of Amelia Island. Watch this interesting “Editor’s Pick” video about Amelia Island’s history of pirates and the search for lost treasure.

Those interested in seeing some items the treasure hunters have found in the past can browse the Maritime Museum of Amelia Island, (904)277-1948, located in downtown Fernandina Beach at 115 South 2nd Street. Admission is $5 per adult (kids under 12 free). Learn more about the Polly-L and Amelia Research & Recovery at their website.

Hunting History

Who doesn’t like the thought of hitting the jackpot? In a world full of dreamers, it’s why so many play the lottery. Others, however, are also hunting history, seeking the mother lode, hidden beneath the sand in the sea. We sure do like the idea of buried treasure around here in Fernandina Beach, “the home of the pirates.”

Fernandina, Home of the Pirates, Peg Leg Pete

Related Content

Browse previous articles about the search for the San Miguel by Steve Nicklas:

Florida’s Sunken Treasure: Amelia Island Crew Hunts For Spanish Ship Worth $2 Billion” (February 13, 2014)

Amelia Island Treasure Hunters In Search of the San Miguel, Buried Treasure Worth $2 Billion” (April 23, 2013).


This “Editor’s Pick” video, “Amelia Island, The Real Treasure Island,” by the Tourist Development Council, is one of a curated collection shared by Amelia Island Living. Selected are videos offering educational and entertainment value and/or interesting visual content captured by locals, travelers, or professional media.