Stand and deliver, ye scurvy dogs!: Spain demands return of sunken treasure


The next time you go treasure hunting, you might just want to leave the gold and silver where you find it...

In May 2007, divers from Odyssey Marine, an American salvage company, gave their latest project the name "the Black Swan." In addition to conjuring exciting images of pirates and privateers, the title also concealed the true name of the ship that they were exploring, which Spain contends is the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes. Based on its claim of ownership, Spain has already begun legal proceedings to claim the estimated 17 tons of precious cargo that have been removed from the wreck.

Sunk by the British fleet in 1804, the Nuestra Señora was a treasure ship, conveying gold, silver, and jewels from Spain's colonies in Latin America. Although Spain and Great Britain weren't officially at war at the time, the British were acting under orders from the Admiralty office, which was convinced that Spain was about to declare war. Besides, given that the Spanish opened fire first, this could also be looked at as a case of schoolyard justice, in which the outgunned Spanish started an ill-advised fight against a far superior foe.