Why So hard To Find Treasure galleons?

for all their faults, the Spanish Empire’s accountants were excellent record keepers. The Archives of the Indies (in Madrid, Spain) has huge bound books which record the output of the gold and silver mines, the output of the Royal mints (in Lima and Mexico City), and the sailing records of the convoys that carried the precious cargoes back to Spain. No doubt, this was because the king got 1/7th of the toatl output.
So, given the excellent record keeping, do we know:
-how much gold and silver was lost at sea?
-the names and dates of the lost galleons?
-the result of losses (due to pirate attacks)?
As for the latest discoveries, does the present spanish government have any claim to the treasure (or a portion of it)?

The Spanish crown may have records of cargo, dates and approximate locations of wrecks. However, they would not have such records if a ship was lost with all hands and was not part of a flotilla.

They would not, however, in most cases have a precise location. Any exposed wooden parts of the ship above the bottom would quickly be consumed by shipworms. Exposed cannon or other metal would be overgrown by coral or other fouling organisms. Shifting sand or mud would bury any remains.

The Spanish authorities would have made attempts to salvage any wrecks in shallow water whose location was known. But many wrecks would have been difficult or impossible to find, and unless a salvage operation was mounted quickly even those whose approximate location was known would quickly disappear.

The “position” of a ship at sea was a pretty vague concept in the olden dayes. Even if a ship went down as part of a flotilla, the position recorded in the other ships’ logs could easily be a hundred miles from their true location.

Then we wait 500-600 years then try to find the wreck on the bottom somewhere in that 10,000 square mile area. Not a highly successful endeavor.

Yes, think how long it took to find the Titanic, even though that was 500 years later, and there were others ships nearby the next morning, picking up survivors in lifeboats & hundreds of dead bodies floating on the water.

A shipwreck only looks like a rough patch on the ocean floor. Woodworms get anything made out of wood in a few years, and the metal corrodes over time. And in the deep ocean, it’s next to impossible to detect.

Navigation was not exact in those days, either. Latitude was easy enough, but the galleons could not calculate longitude with any accuracy. So even with information about the wreck, you were stuck searching a lot of ocean to find it.

There’s been a large incentive to find lost treasure galleons for quite some time.

Therefore, all the easy to find ones have been found already.

Sure, most of the time records were good enough to be able to work out where wrecks were relatively simply. All of those have already been found. It’s not surprising that the few remaining ones not already found are the few that had anomalous problems making them hard to locate.

I’d too say that 99percent of the reason is because the ocean is huge and a shipwreck is tiny.

A random thought about pirates is if a ship was taken, did they get away with it and nobody knows?

Yes. Of course the missing ships are a case of “nobody knows”.

However, mostly ships likely to be attacked by pirates tried to sail in pairs, at least, and so the surviving ship would report the loss.

What about missing pirates ? Is there a nexus , in dates and general location, for a missing treasure ship and a missing pirate ? The pirate takes the booty and goes to retire somewhere, having gained as much wealth as he could possibly collect ?

You mean, living like a king in Patagonia?

I recall reading that there was a belief that the galleons sunk in Vigo Bay (Spain) were said to contain a king’s ransom in gold. A simple search of the archives would have revealed the legend to be false.

There’s the fact that wood doesn’t exactly keep well over time (although for some reason it does better at very high pressures - but of course the deeper wrecks are also harder to find or exploit). Any “surviving” ship is an incredible exception.

If they were sunk in a region of the sea with much current like, say, in the middle of the Atlantic or Pacific along the trade winds lines it’d be unlikely for a wreck to stay in one piece, and once broken up it would rot even faster, then break into smaller pieces etc… The wrecks of that era that could be recovered in our century were typically lost either in quiet shallows close to land (like the famous *Mary Rose *in the Solent strait ; or the Witte Leeuw just off St. Helens) ; or in boggy swamps where they could be preserved in the mud.