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Investor buys out Mel Fisher's family
Wednesday, 16 February 2011 05:35
Summer hunting season off to a good start

SEBASTIAN, Fla. - Brent Brisben is a real estate developer from Cincinnati who just became a full- fledged South Florida treasure hunter.

"It truly is the adventure of a lifetime so it was not a hard sell to convince me to move from Cincinnati, Ohio to Sebastian, Florida to take over the operation," he said.

Brisben and his father just bought out part of the territory owned by famed treasure hunter Mel Fisher – the man who discovered 40 tons of silver and gold on the Atocha wreck back in the 1980s.

Most of the waters surrounding Florida are managed by the state, and that goes for the treasure found there, too. But not the stretch from Melbourne to Stuart and down in the Keys. Mel Fisher fought a Supreme Court battle to win the exclusive rights to these waters.

The Fisher family decided to focus its efforts on the Atocha in the Keys, allowing Brisben to take over the search for the lost Spanish Fleet of 1715 and the "Queen's Jewels," wrecks that gave the Treasure Coast its name.

"This is strictly an adventure. The potential to find real treasure and vast amounts of money is there, but we can’t look at it that way," he said.

For the crews that lead the search, the work is hard. Most days they come back empty handed, and when they do make a find,  each piece that comes up must be painstakingly restored for up to six months.

"Each one of the objects goes into a bath and there’s an electric current that’s run through each item to expel the salts or contaminants that cause corrosion," he said.

So far the summer hunting season has gotten off to a good start: a gold coin, a gold locket and larger pieces that indicate they have hit on a major wreck.

Brisben’s kept some of Mel Fisher’s most experienced people: Capt. Greg Bounds, and Mel Molinar, a treasure hunter for 50 years. Their advice to the new owner?

"Persistence, determination," said Bounds.

"If you do something every day, every day, every day, one of these days it pays off you know….boom, boom…bingo," said Molinar.

And Brent Brisben is hoping that big day will happen on his watch.

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