Festival honors the late treasure salvor Fisher

Mel Fisher shows some of the ‘Atocha’ treasure.
Mel Fisher shows some of the ‘Atocha’ treasure.

Adventure lovers can celebrate the late Mel Fisher, who sought and salvaged the shipwrecked Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha, July 15 and 16 during Mel Fisher Days in his longtime home port.

Fisher and his crew uncovered a $450 million cache of Atocha treasure and artifacts in July 1985 after a 16-year search. The galleon sank about 35 miles southwest of Key West during a 1622 hurricane. Fisher’s son Kim Fisher now leads the ongoing search for Atocha artifacts and treasures that still remain undiscovered.

Those attending the festival can explore the Fisher family’s 90-foot working salvage boat J.B. Magruder, take behind-the-scenes tours of the family’s private artifact conservation lab, meet some of the crew that found the Atocha’s riches and rock at a block party that recalls Mel’s exuberant spirit.

The July 15 highlights include a 5 to 9 p.m. party with Atocha crew at the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St., in Key West’s Historic Seaport. The Magruder will be docked behind the bar and open for tours from 4:30 to 7 p.m. For tour registration, visit .

Among the evening’s other attractions are a live auction, contests with prizes including an authentic Atocha coin music and the presentation of the annual Mel Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award to salvor John Brandon. Guided tours of the conservation laboratory at Mel Fisher’s Treasures, 200 Greene St., will be offered all day. For tour registration, visit .

The fun moves to the 200 block of Key West’s Front Street for a July 16 block party from 6 to 10 p.m.. Planned are a free concert, food and drink vendors, dancing and a silent auction. One party-goer wearing a 2016 Mel Fisher Days T-shirt will win a treasure chest filled with $2,500 in silver dollars. Shirts can be bought at Mel Fisher Days events.

Nnet proceeds from Mel Fisher Days festivities benefit the Florida Keys’ Wesley House Family Services, a nonprofit agency.