From the earliest days of Marco Island’s modern development, there has been talk of treasure from a Spanish shipwreck buried beneath the sand of the island’s 3.5 mile crescent beach.
Late Monday afternoon on January 21, Chase Mohr and his 10-year-old son Dominic discovered a buried treasure that they’ll surely never forget.
Though it wasn’t booty from a Spanish shipwreck, the thrill that Dominic experienced while using a metal detector with his dad created lifelong memories—and caused quite a stir on the south end of Marco Beach.
“My dad got a reading and I said, ‘we should dig this up,’’” Dominic said. “He said, ‘it’s probably a pipeline.’ I said, ‘Dad! it’s not connected!’”
Chase Mohr, a third-generation cement contractor from Sylvania, Ohio, is no stranger to underground pipes or using a shovel. He watched as Dominic started digging.
“About halfway through digging it out, we saw a gold rubber band around it and knew there wouldn’t be a gold rubber band around an underground pipe,” Chase said. “So Dominic kept digging and there it was.”
The treasure that Dominic unearthed was a three-foot tall statue of a mother manatee and her calf.
It was all Dominic could do to lift the statue. “It’s as tall as my little sister,” he said, referring to his four-year-old sister, who was back at the condo with mom.
Longtime beach vendor Paul Reisinger, owner of Paul’s Beach Rentals for the past 25 years, observed the treasure hunt that happened 15 feet from his beach location, just a few feet in front of the beach boardwalk. He knew nothing about the history of the manatee statue.
“I don’t know how it got there or how long it’s been buried there,” Reisinger said. “But It sure created a lot of excitement down here.”
The crowd of beachgoers were surprised that a large statue was buried under the sand and were excited for the beaming 10-year-old.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever found,” Dominic said. But what was the second-best thing he’s ever found? “Twenty-six cents,” he answered earnestly.
So what was the immediate future for the Marco Beach manatees? “I’m going to take it back and show my mom,” Dominic said. “She’s going to be freaked out!”