This week’s Cooper’s Treasure saw us at the halfway mark of the series with Darrell Miklos hot on the trail for underwater riches down off Florida.
The energy of the series — whatever you make of Mr. Miklos or the veracity of Gordon Cooper’s side hobby from space — is undeniable.
If you have the least bit of curiosity or wonderment of what priceless artifacts and treasure lies under the waves, you can’t help but watch this show.
This week’s episode was a bit of an emotional break for Darrell, who is touched that Gordon gave him his maps and charts of “anomalies” he saw from space.
Of particular note is Area #4 on Gordon’s charts — the wreckage of Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a Spanish treasure ship loaded with emeralds, silver and gold.
The Atocha went down in a hurricane in 1622, off the coast of Florida. Recovering that treasure made the late explorer Mel Fisher one of the wealthiest treasure hunters on the planet.
Fisher’s team found a half a billion dollars in treasure on that wreck. But Gordon Cooper mapped these decades before Fisher even made the discovery.
Miklos says: “They know there’s still treasure down there,” and he plans to get some as well.
Darrell assembles a crack team from Mel Fisher’s Family Enterprises down in the Florida Keys, including usage of a piece of equipment called the “Dolores” which is a metal detector on steroids. They use blowers to excavate a hot spot where there’s “something.”
A ping signals a 3ft piece of metal that has them all excited.
An artifact is found. Up they go. But it’s a WWII bomb strap. Despite this, Darrell is pumped. “That was a pretty amazing thing for me,” he says as he fills in the Fisher team on what he’s doing and they are visibly gobsmacked at the Gordon Cooper story.
Mel’s son Kim Fisher tells Darrell that if he had that precise map and chart intel, the search his dad made for the Atocha would not have taken 17 years.
“There’s about 1,000 more Spanish wrecks. Study the Spanish trade routes, that’s your best bet, accurate location is the key,” Kim Fisher says as they counsel Miklos to also find the manifests from these lost ships.
The collaboration with the Fisher group has put a gale force wind in Miklos’s sails. “The master chart is real,” he says.
Now the Turks and Caicos are his next area of interest; seven islands Gordon noted. They were on the trail of Christopher Columbus. Site #2 is now pegged.
Now he must revisit his dad Roger Miklos’s explorations, as one of the fallen Columbus ships (rumored to possibly be The Pinta) was also a wreck that he worked on.
His father, who has not been too forthcoming with his help thus far, has recollections of the first salvage of the wreck which are hair-raising.
“Four tons of red pearls,” his dad says. “A whole span of history from 1492 to 1504,” he adds, as he promises a potential treasure haul for the books to his son.
“My dad knows a lot, but I can’t take his word on everything,” says Darrell as he sets off for Spain to find the manifests for Columbus’s lost ships.
But for Darrell, the immediate problem lies with his absence and his long periods of time away from family.
His wife is distraught and says this is “the last time”. He vows to come back victorious in his work.
He jets over to Seville, Spain, seeking the manifest, which is found in the stunningly appointed Archives for the Indias, a hallowed historical repository where all details for every single official ship that left Spain is stored.
The old archive paperwork is found, but the Castilian calligraphy of the era is a daunting challenge for Miklos.
Of to Jerez, Spain to visit a paleographer. Darrell needs to know how many ships were lost and what was on them.
The Santa Maria sank, according to the expert. Then later, the Columbus ships reused by Pinzon brothers had routes that were traceable too.
Darrell posits that finding the Columbus ship anchor — easily identifiable for the era — is the key.
It’s “the most informative day of my entire journey,” says Darrell. The Spanish academics help him, they decipher the manifest of the trips and what the holds were.
“Jewels, silver, oh my god…I want to dance! Precious stones!, Incredible,” says Darrell who is ecstatic.
We cannot wait as next week’s tease shows Darrell recovers an anchor believe to be from one of Christopher Columbus’s ships.
Cooper’s Treasure airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on Discovery.