May 10, 2010 6:26 PM
Florida deep-sea explorers are appealing a judge's ruling that 17 tons of treasure recovered from a sunken Spanish galleon belongs to Spain.
Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration filed an opening brief Monday with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. At issue is ownership of an estimated $500 million in silver coins and other artifacts salvaged from the shipwreck three years ago. Last year a federal judge in Tampa ruled that Spain is the rightful owner of the treasure from the navy frigate Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes y las Animas.
But Odyssey argues it is entitled to most of the loot because historical records show the vessel was on a commercial mission when it sank under fire in 1804.