During Tuesday's meeting, the Key West City Commission set aside September 6th to honor the 400th anniversary of the sinking of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita along with the rest of the 1622 Spanish Fleet. The ships were torn apart on the reef in the waters off Key West, and all but five souls were lost.
Also lost were 40 tons of gold, silver, and copper artifacts – until the persevering Mel Fisher located wreck in 1985.
Before the discovery, the treasure hunter had secured ownership of the wreck through the courts. He and his wife founded the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society, a non-profit organization to support a collection of artifacts from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and its sister ship, the Santa Margarita.
Fisher has been memorialized annually since 1997 by the Mel Fisher Days celebration.
The proclamation was accepted by Kim Fisher and his wife, Marylynn.
“260 people lost their lives on the Atocha,” said Kim Fisher. “That ship was 90 feet at the waterline. If you’ve seen a ship that size, it’s hard to fit 265 people.”
He shared the accounts of the five survivors and the horror of battling the raging sea.
“I’m glad to be part of the team, headed by my father Mel Fisher,” he said, “who got to bring some of that history back to life. It's going to be on exhibit here in Key West forever.”
In the photo: L to R: Commissioners Gregory Davila and Mary Lou Hoover, Mayor Teri Johnston, Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, Kim and Marylynn Fisher, Vice Mayor Sam Kaufman, and Commissioners Clayton Lopez and Billy Wardlow.