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A Hot June for MRR

June was a hot month for MRR in more ways than one, with temperatures pushing 100 degrees and our boat captains and divers making some great recoveries from the 1715 sites along Florida’s Treasure Coast. All three vessels operated by MRR were fortunate to make gold recoveries, as well as other important archeological finds. It has been very exciting executing the plan designed by MRR Operations Manager, Dan Porter, and his captains, Levin Shavers and Josh Fisher.

Along with the operational team, another key to the season’s successful start has been the support of investor members, both on and off the water. Without this support, the cultural remains that have been rescued so far would remain on the bottom of the ocean for the benefit of no one. I would like to thank all members of MRR, with a special thank you to Jimmy Parker and Art Schweitzer for their continued support that makes this recovery effort possible.

A selection of artifacts recovered from the Corrigan's site by the MRR team in June 2019.

Under contract with 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels, LLC, MRR is operating three vessels on the 1715 sites this season. The boats have already completed two expeditions to the Corrigan’s site off Vero Beach, one of the MRR team's primary focuses this season. During the third day on the Corrigan’s site, the vessel Capitana was working in a nearshore area and recovered a remarkable gold religious artifact—a gold hinged box that is possibly a reliquary or vessel to carry the Host. Diver Kenton Dickerson recovered the magnificent artifact inscribed with the Christian symbol for Jesus Christ, “IHS.”

Long time recovery diver Kenton Dickerson bringing the 300-year-old religious artifact to the surface.

The letters IHS, a symbol for Jesus Christ, are inscribed beneath the encrustation.

Another design is inscribed on the inside of the box lid, hidden beneath encrustation. The MRR team is waiting to see the significance of the inscription after the artifact undergoes the proper conservation at the 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels, LLC conservation facility.

On June 6th, the Capitana and crew moved to an offshore area of previous gold finds and while conducting methodical excavations, started to recover small exquisite links and pieces of a gold Olive Blossom chain. Divers recovered more than fifty pieces of this fine linked chain.

Flowerets, links and pieces of a gold Olive Blossom chain.

On June 12th, Captain Josh Fisher guided the Sea Reaper and first mate Tilly Lowe, one of MRR’s newest divers, to recover her first silver piece of eight. Tilly has turned out to be one of MRR’s most valuable assets and has proven herself repeatedly since coming on board at the start of the 2019 season. She has done this in many ways but mostly as a strong diver and artifact recovery specialist. She is driven by her passion to make archeological recoveries to share with the world.

On the Corrigan’s wreck site, Tilly recovers her first silver piece of eight.

On June 14th, back on board the Capitana, Dan Porter recovered an intact Mano Stone while diving with Kenton Dickerson. This is a unique artifact that was used to process corn. These stone tools were very common among the Mesoamerican and Mayan cultures. This is the third Mano Stone that Dan has recovered, but the first that is fully intact. This is a magnificent example of the marriage of the Spanish and Mesoamerican cultures.

MRR Operations Manager and expert recovery diver, Dan Porter, recovers a remarkable intact Mano Stone artifact.

While the Capitana continued working the nearshore areas to the north of the wreck site, Josh Fisher moved the Sea Reaper to another area along the main scatter of the Corrigan’s site. While following a very thorough excavation method, divers began to recover yet another area of Olive Blossom chain. Under Captain Josh’s direction, Tilly brought up the first pieces of the chain, along with Sea Reaper diver Jack Leedy and MRR member John Davis, making their first gold recoveries on these famed sites.

​MRR member and diver John Davis recovers pieces of a gold Olive Blossom chain.

Flowerets, links and pieces of a gold Olive Blossom chain.

On the 24th, Captain Levin Shavers and Jimmy Parker moved the vessel Seatrepid to another area of the Corrigan’s site. While combing the area with precision excavation, they began to locate pieces of a different style of gold chain. This chain looked more like the type that would have been used for a rosary. By this time, things were getting very exciting on the Corrigan’s wreck site for all three MRR vessels.

MRR captain and recovery diver Levin Shavers recovers pieces of a gold rosary chain in a nearshore area of the Corrigan’s wreck site.

While the Seatrepid was finding the rosary links, Capitan Josh had found another silver coin farther offshore. Then, nearshore on the Capitana, MRR recovery diver Rob Hill made an exciting and unique recovery of two silver cherubs. A couple of excavations later, he brought another silver cherub to the surface. Along with the cherubs, the Capitana located a number of other heavy ships fittings and artifacts such as ships pins, spikes, dead eyes, musket balls, olive jar sherds and many more. The Capitana crew has tagged and logged more than 150 artifacts this year.

On the 25th, Kenton Dickerson started the day by recovering a beautiful full-dated 1698 Potosi two reale on board the Capitana. Then, Seatrepid Captain Levin Shavers informed the other boats that Jimmy Parker had made a good find. The crew on the other two boats waited on pins and needles to hear exactly what had been found. It was a very well-preserved silver chalice. It had minimal damage to one side but the overall condition of the artifact is very good due to the deep sand it was recovered from. This was a very exciting find for Jimmy, who has been an instrumental part in not only the day-to-day operations of MRR but on the funding side as well. The silver chalice adds to the list of recoveries made by Jimmy over the last two years while working and diving with MRR.

MRR member and diver Jimmy Parker recovers a silver chalice

in a nearshore area of the Corrigan’s wreck site.

On the 26th, the last day of MRR’s expedition to the Corrigan’s site, Kenton got things started again on the Capitana by recovering a Mexican mint one reale silver coin, along with numerous ships fittings and other artifacts. Not long after that recovery, Levin notified the teams that diver Dale Gannon had recovered what they thought was an alabaster plate. This artifact is believed to have Mesoamerican origin and is another example of the blending of cultures that took place during the Spanish colonial period. This was a great find by Dale and many more are expected from him. He has been an integral part of the MRR team for the last two years.

Front and back views of an alabaster plate recovered by MRR diver Dale Gannon.

Then, once again, the team got the news that Captain Josh and crew were making gold artifact recoveries. Josh has excelled as a captain for MRR and has been developing and refining his skills as an Operations Manager. Josh is another highly valued asset in the execution of MRR’s day-to-day operations. This season, Josh has been alternating excavations on the Corrigan’s site between areas of past recoveries and new areas of developing scatter, and has been doing a fantastic job in both areas. Josh selected a new area after carefully studying MRR’s onboard real time AutoCAD map drawing of the Corrigan’s site, and his evaluation paid off. The other vessels received the news that Tilly had recovered a small piece of what they believed was rosary chain. Then, Jack surfaced with a flat strip of gold with an ornate design. Then, more pieces of rosary came to the surface. Tilly recovered what is believed to be the center piece were a cross or medallion would have hung. Jack recovered a length of chain that was a little over six inches long. This rosary is not intact and it is believed that Josh and the Sea Reaper crew will recover more of this religious artifact within only a few hours of additional work in this area.

MRR divers Tilly Lowe and Jack Leedy recover pieces of a gold rosary under the direction of Josh Fisher in a new area of the Corrigan’s wreck site.

Tilly with a piece of a rosary recovered from the Corrigan's wreck site.

Pieces of a gold rosary and other gold artifacts.

In conclusion, June was a good month for the vessels of MRR. There was a lot of work conducted and the 1715 season is off to a good start. With that said, it is time for the MRR team to buckle down and make the knowledge gained by these recoveries count. MRR is focused on using the very best scientific archeological approach in conducting the search and recovery of these precious artifacts. All members of the MRR team believe that with every artifact recovered, the knowledge base is expanded so that all can learn what happened to this important fleet of Spanish ships in the middle of a raging hurricane over 300 years ago.

Keep looking for updates—the season is getting hot.


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