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Over the last 400 years, many ships have used Florida’s coastal waters. Explorers and settlers arrived in Florida by ship. Soon, Spain began taking the riches of the Aztec and Incan empires to Europe. Silver and gold-laden treasure ships sailed along the Florida coastline. But many ships were wrecked because of hurricanes, coastal reefs, shallow shores, and even pirates.

Marine salvage (recovery) was very profitable in Florida by the time it became a U.S. territory in 1821. Florida Indians and crews from Havana often competed for the cargo of wrecked ships in Florida waters.

In modern times, many of the wrecked vessels have been discovered. Some are in waters shallow enough to be explored. Some have yielded treasures for divers and salvagers. The wrecks tell stories about Florida’s history and importance to shipping.
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Florida’s Shipwrecks and Treasures
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