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The “Tortugas” shipwreck excavated in 1990 and 1991 off the Florida Keys was the world’s first comprehensive deep-ocean shipwreck excavation using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). Based on extensive research, the most plausible identification for this ship is the Portuguese-built and Spanish-operated 117-ton Buen Jesús y Nuestra Señora del Rosario; this vessel sailed with the Tierra Firme fleet for Nueva Cordoba (Cumana) on the Pearl Coast in modern Venezuela before attempting to return to Spain in September 1622.

Located at a depth of nearly 1,300 feet (405 meters), the excavation of the “Tortugas” shipwreck was conducted over the course of 138 dives in 1990 and 1991. The contexts of 16,903 shipboard objects were recorded prior to recovery (including 6,838 pearls, around 3,930 ceramic wares and sherds, 1,664 ballast stones 1,590 organic items, 1,184 silver coins and 176 intrusive items).

Additional information about the shipreck, archaeological excavation, and artifacts recovered is available in a series of archaeological papers available here