It was in 2016 that divers from Global Marine Exploration (GME), a private marine salvage outfit, came across some truly exciting – and potentially lucrative – finds off the coast of Florida. They’d discovered the remains of what they believed to be a 16th-century ship. But what the folks at GME didn’t know was that they were about to be plunged into a complex international legal quagmire.
It’s likely that this vessel was either French or Spanish. And it was in the seas off Florida because of the intense conflict that was played out between the two colonial rivals in the 16th century. Florida was in fact the first territory on the U.S. mainland to be visited by Europeans.
The first European we know about who landed on Florida was a Spanish conquistador, Juan Ponce de León. Seemingly charmed by this new land that he discovered in 1513, he named it La Florida, which is Spanish for land of flowers.