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Key West to honor famed shipwreck salvager

Treasure of Fisher are celebrated along with the discovers during Key West's big event.
Treasure of Fisher are celebrated along with the discovers during Key West's big event.
Mel Fisher Museum

The late Mel Fisher, who sought and salvaged the shipwrecked Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha, will be remembered July 10-13, during Mel Fisher Days in Key West.

Fisher and his crew uncovered a $450 million cache in July 1985 after a 16-year search. The Atocha galleon sank approximately 35 miles southwest of Key West during a 1622 hurricane. Fisher's son Kim Fisher leads the continuing search for artifacts and treasures that still remain undiscovered.

Festival highlights include a dock party with the salvage crew, behind-the-scenes tours of the Fisher family's private artifact conservation lab, a team treasure hunt and a rollicking street party that recalls Mel's exuberant spirit.

Events begin at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 10, dockside at the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St. in Key West's Historic Seaport. Fisher's famed 100-foot treasure salvage vessel J.B. Magruder will be on display while current and past crewmembers share memories and treasure tales.

Evening attractions include a pirate pub crawl and pirate ball with contest prizes including an authentic Atocha coin. Friday features 45-minute guided VIP tours of the private conservation laboratory at Mel Fisher's Treasures, 200 Greene St., spotlighting the techniques experts use to conserve priceless shipwreck artifacts.

That evening, the Amazing Mel Fisher Treasure Hunt is scheduled in Old Town with teams vying for $5,000 in silver dollars. The winning team will be announced Saturday during the Mel Fisher Days Sizzlin' Street Fair, starting at 11 a.m. in the 200 block of Duval Street. Activities include live music by the Spam Allstars, a silent auction, food and drink, a dunk tank, games and family fun.

Also Saturday, salvage fans can view Fisher family videos of Mel's early expeditions and attend the presentation of the Mel Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award. Events take place at Key West’s Tropic Cinema, 416 Eaton St.

All net proceeds from Mel Fisher Days festivities benefit the Florida Keys' Wesley House Family Services. Event schedule, pricing and registration:

When you go

The drive to Key West from Fort Lauderdale takes about 5 hours. Silver Airways offers nonstop flights to Key West. American Eagle has flights from Miami International Airport.

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