The Treasure Coast is a region of the U.S. state of Florida. It is located on the Atlantic coast and is comprised of the Indian River, St. Lucie, and Martin, and occasionally, Palm Beach counties. The regions name refers to the Spanish Treasure Fleet lost in a 1715 hurricane, app emerged from residents' desire to separate themselves from Miami and the Gold Coast region.
In 1715 and again in 1733, Spain's treasure fleets were destroyed by hurricanes off the coast of Florida. Although the Spanish Empire attempted to recover some treasure, much more treasure was to remain on the ocean floor. These sunken ships lay forgotten for over 200 years until modern treasure hunters discovered a few of them. Today, the remains of two of the ships—the Urca de Lima from the 1715 fleet and the San Pedro from the 1733 fleet—are registered as Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserves. These ships are historical time capsules from a bygone era and can reveal much about the history of the mighty maritime system that helped mold the New Americas.
Violent storms off the coast of Florida in July 1715 ravaged 11 Spanish ships as they attempted to return to Spain. From the mid 16th to the mid 18th century, heavily armored Spanish fleets such as this plied the waters between Spain and the Americas transporting untold amounts of New World treasure. Through this treasure fleet system, Spain created a mighty and vast New World empire and became the most powerful nation in Europe. The fleets' return voyage—when the ships were laden with silver, gold, gemstones, tobacco, exotic spices, and indigo—was the most dangerous. Pirates and privateers from rival European countries threatened to seize the precious cargoes and jeopardize Spain's dominance of the Americas. The greatest danger, nonetheless, came not from enemy countries, but from unexpected and deadly hurricanes.