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Vacationing Family Finds Treasure Off Florida's Coast

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're also tracking this story. A vacationing family hit the jackpot this week while scuba diving in shallow water off Florida's Treasure Coast.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER)

INSKEEP: Suitably named. Eric Schmitt swam with a metal detector and a video camera strapped to his head as he searched for booty along the ocean floor.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

ERIC SCHMITT: What is that?

INSKEEP: You hear him say, what is that? Schmitt's camera lingers on a cluster of shiny objects. And then we see his fingers sink into the sand and pull something out.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

SCHMITT: Oh, man. (Laughter). All right.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

You can hear Eric Schmitt's joy when he saw a golden coin. In fact, Schmitt, his wife, sister and parents found more than 50 of them, artifacts of a Spanish shipwreck that occurred some 300 years ago. The coins are valued at more than $1 million.

BRENT BRISBEN: Being the first person to touch something in over 300 years, there's a euphoric feeling that you'll never forget.

INSKEEP: That's treasure hunter Brent Brisben. He owns the company with rights to the old shipwreck site, and he says Schmitt found some incredible rarities, including a coin worth more than $500,000.

BRISBEN: The Tricentennial Royal is incredibly rare. There are only a handful of Royals known to exist in the world. And they're perfect specimens of the coinage of that time.

MONTAGNE: So perfect, says Brisben, he almost went into shock.

BRISBEN: It was one of the more surreal moments that I've had in a career of surreal moments. I literally was shaking. It was breathtaking. It blew me away. I couldn't believe what I was holding in my hand.

MONTAGNE: It's not the first time the Schmitts have struck pay dirt on their annual treasure hunting trip. They've made national headlines for three years running in this very spot, about 150 feet off the coast. The name of their boat?

INSKEEP: Aarrr Booty. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.