Crews from Havana were often sent to salvage wrecked treasure ships during the colonial
period. Florida Indians also salvaged materials from early shipwrecks,
and sometimes captured the survivors. By the time Florida became a
United States territory in 1821, shipwreck salvage had evolved into
a profitable enterprise. State contracts now regulate the salvage
business, once fraught with intrigue and banditry.
ESCALANTE FONTANEDA REACHING SHORE, 1549
Painting courtesy of William L. Trotter