Knoxville native chosen to dive Key West treasure wreck
KNOXVILLE-While walking the beaches on vacation, many dream of stumbling upon buried treasure hiding deep within the sands. For many, all that is found are old beer cans, suntan lotions and such, but for others, ancient riches are uncovered. For Knoxville native, Rick Bowen, finding buried treasure is a dream that could possibly come true.
Rick Bowen, writer and producer of Rick Bowen Underwater Explorer, takes viewers all over the country exploring exotic plant and wildlife under the sea.
Bowen, a 61-year-old veteran diver with more than 50 years of diving experience, snagged an exclusive spot to dive the world-famous Atocha shipwreck off the coast of Key West, FL on July 18-25, 2011.
The Spanish ship, Atocha, sank amongst the coral reef during a hurricane in 1622 while carrying precious metals, jewels, indigo and tobacco from ports in the Americas on its voyage back to Spain. At the time, Atocha was carrying the largest cargo of rare emeralds ever transported from Colombia according to the Atocha Treasure Company LLC.
Hundreds of years later in 1985, well-known treasure hunter, Mel Fisher discovered the wreck after searching for 16 years. Aboard lay $450 million worth of treasure with hundreds of precious emeralds scattering the wreck that it is often referred to as the “Emerald City” according to Mel Fisher’s website. "It is understood by experts that the stern-castle, the part of the ship that would hold most of the gold and rare emeralds is also still missing from the shipwreck."
This is where divers get to try their luck in finding treasure. Only 36 divers a year are allowed to dive the Atocha and Bowen sees this journey as the adventure of a lifetime.
Rick Bowen and Mel Fisher, famous treasure hunter and discoverer of the Atocha wreck, seen here in 1982 at a Diver’ s Equipment and Manufacturing Association convention.
"I've done many wreck dives over the years, but never a treasure wreck, especially one that still contains a vast amount of jewels. In all my years of diving I’ve only found dinosaur fossils and Indian pottery, but never anything such as the treasures the Fishers found."
Bowen plans to record the dives and tour of the Mel Fisher Treasure Museum and air it on his television show, Rick Bowen Underwater Explorer later this summer.
Rick Bowen Underwater Explorer is a documentary series of scuba diving adventures and trips to exotic locations that are recorded and produced by Bowen himself. The series airs on channel 8 in Knoxville at 4 pm on Sundays. For additional information please visit http://www.rickbowen.com..