Shipwreck hunter recovers first gold from what could be $80m find

Shipwreck hunter recovers first gold from what could be $80m findOdyssey Marine Exploration (NASDAQ CM:OMEX) announced Monday that it recovered nearly 1,000 ounces gold from its first reconnaissance dive to the SS Central America shipwreck site last month.

The wreck was discovered in 1988 and the Florida-based company said during the dive, gold bars and other artifacts were clearly visible on the surface of the shipwreck site. Archaeological excavation will now be conducted to recover the remaining gold.

The Central America, carrying mainly mine workers and bosses returning east from the California gold rush was caught in a hurricane and sank on September 12, 1857 roughly 260 kilometres off the South Carolina coast.

Shipwreck hunter recovers first gold from what could be $80m find

477 passengers, mostly miners and businessmen returning east from California with their personal possessions and fortunes in gold accumulated after years of prospecting during the Gold Rush were on board the steamship during her final voyage.

Odyssey believes the ship has one of the largest documented cargoes of gold ever lost at sea and such was the loss, that the salvage company says it contributed to the Panic of 1857.

The five gold ingots were recovered and two $20 Double Eagle coins were also found.

The gold bars were stamped with assayer's marks and weights that range from 96.5 to 313.5 troy ounces.

Odyssey pegs the remaining passenger and commercial gold cargo at $760,000 in 1857 value.

That could be worth more than $80 million in today's money and at today's metal prices, particularly if more of the coins retrieved are Double Eagles.

Shipwreck hunter recovers first gold from what could be $80m find