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Mysterious Sunken Pirate Ship at the Mouth of the Swanee River

In the middle of the Swanee River, there sits a sunken pirate ship. This is one of the most mysterious things about this river, and no one knows what happened to this boat or who it belonged to. The story goes that the boat was carrying gold and treasure when it sank on its way down the river during the 1700s.

This tale has captured people's imagination for centuries, but no one knows if there is any truth to it at all.

The river's depth and flow make it difficult to find something by accident, but that hasn't stopped people from coming up with plenty of theories about the origins of the mysterious sunken pirate ship. Some say it was a Spanish treasure galleon that sank in 1730, while others think it might be one of Jean Lafitte's ships from 1819. However, if you go on an expedition with us, we'll tell you all about how the story unfolds.

Canoes and gear packs on beach ready for a trip down the Swannee River in Florida

A Quick Overview on the Mysterious Sunken Pirate Ship

Researchers say an old pirate vessel sits at the mouth of the famous Swanee river in Florida. Swanee or Suwannee river is the second largest river in the Sunshine State, Florida, flowing from the south-southeast to the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 246 miles (396 km) long. The mysterious sunken pirate ship contained about $5 million in silver and gold coins. Researchers say the vessels sit in 25 feet water depth at the north of Big Bradford Island.

In 1953 several fishermen in the area landed about $625,000 of the treasure using their fishing nets. However, reports suggest that the anglers had been fishing for hours before dredging up their lucky nets, so the exact spot of the sunken pirate ship is unknown. This means the legendary lost treasure is still out there lying at the mouth of the great River Swanee in FL.

The Major Treasure-laden Pirate Ships?

Numerous wars have been fought upon the waters of Florida, including the Swanee River. This river, among other water bodies around FL, has survived dozens of hurricanes, but unfortunately, hundreds of ships haven’t survived. Men hastily buried their wealth during wars, and lots of valuables got misplaced or lost and were never found again. On the other hand, hurricanes sunk many pirate ships full of precious treasures, especially gold and silver.

In the past few decades, Florida has yielded thousands of lost treasures from various water bodies, including the Swanee River. Mexican gold was discovered in Glassy Key, 13 chests of treasure near Cocoa, 61 gold pieces, and $70,000 found at Lower Matecumbe Key. Dozens of pirate caches have been lying at the mouth and deep in the Swanee River. Some discovered treasures can be viewed at museums like the Art Mckee's Treasure Museum in Plantation Key.

In the 1860s, a United States gunboat chased a Confederate ship across the Swanee River. The Confederate ship crew reeled off barrels of gold coins to block their capture by the US gunboat.

Famous Pirates who Sailed the Swanee River

The most successful and notorious pirate known as Jose Gaspar or Gasparilla is said to have sailed the Swanee River. His buccaneering methods were black and bloody, making him stand out among many pirates who buried or lost some of their wealth in Florida. During his stay in Florida, he accumulated a wealth estimated at $30,000,000. Researchers say that Gasparilla and his brother buried all their money around the Charlotte Harbour islands. His men (hundreds of them) also buried their small caches and chests of treasure on the same islands.

Another famous pirate who said on the Swanee River was Black Caesar, a former slave who fled to Florida. He became a strong pirate leader and built his headquarters on Sanibel Island. Caesar is believed to have captured a Spanish galleon carrying about 26 tons of silver which he swiftly buried somewhere on Sanibel Island. Black Caeser is said to have made the Spaniards dig a massively deep hole to hide the silver, then killed them all and buried them together with the treasure.

Calico Jack is another well-known buccaneer who sailed the Floridian waters, including the Swanee River. It’s said that he buried his treasure estimated at $2,000,000 on an unidentified island somewhere near the Lostman’s or Shark River in Florida. However, this treasure cache can’t be uncovered because it’s hidden within the Evergreen National Park boundaries, prohibiting any form of digging.


It's no secret that the mouth of the Swanee River has been home to pirates for centuries, and the pirate ship that sunk into this river is still a mystery. Those who live near the river and fish there swear they see it from time to time. A few brave souls have even attempted to explore it and claim they found the treasure but can’t give the ship’s exact location. So the mysterious treasure-laden ship is still lying at the mouth of Swanee River, waiting for the lucky crew to discover it.

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