KEY WEST (CBSMiami) – Florida Gov. Rick Scott visited a Key West museum Friday afternoon to examine 16th- and 17th-century shipwreck artifacts salvaged in Florida Keys and Bahamian waters; and several are to be exhibited at the Governor’s Mansion to help tell the story of Florida’s history during Hispanic Heritage Month.
Scott and his wife Ann toured the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and viewed objects from the 17th-century Spanish galleons Nuestra Senora de Atocha and Santa Margarita, sunk off Key West in 1622 and salvaged by the late Fisher and his crew.
“Part of the history of Florida is all the treasure ships, what Mel Fisher did, the ships that were coming back and forth from Spain,” said Scott. “My wife has opened up the mansion to a lot more children coming through, and it’s a way for them to learn a lot more about the history of the state.”
As well as viewing gold bars and a 77.7-karat emerald salvaged from the wrecksites, Scott tried on a priceless 17th-century gold “money chain” dating from the early 1600s.
In addition, he examined crossbows, a fish spear and other artifacts from the Columbus-era Santa Clara, one of the oldest shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere.
Experts believe the Santa Clara was owned by Pedro Menendez de Aviles, who in 1565 established the United States’ first permanent European settlement in what is now St. Augustine, Fla.
The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this story.