Isla de Coco treasure generates bogus online tale

Costa Rica’s financial troubles are over, according to a sometimes clever online publication.

The publication reported in March that park rangers in Isla del Coco discovered the long lost Treasure of Lima, which now is worth $200 million.

In fact, The Treasure of Lima is one of three major stashes of loot believed to be hidden on the remote Costa Rican island some 550 km (342 miles) in the Pacific from the mainland.

The publication, the World News Daily Report, also reports exclusively on the 11th death of those who are victims of a curse after finding the bones of  King Richard III of England. Then there are 20-pound newborns and other fictional oddities.

The publication is at least the spiritual descendant of the Weekly World News, the U.S. supermarket tabloid that also published outrageous fake news stories about aliens, ghosts and their mascot, Batboy. Right, a human-bat hybrid with pointy ears, it appears.

A Web site that debunks fake news stories reported that the photos that were supposedly from the Isla del Coco treasure actually came from TripAdviser. They probably were artifacts recovered from Nuestra Señora de Atocha, discovered off Florida by treasure hunter Mel Fisher. The  Atocha sunk in 1622.

Those who dabble in fake news stories usually begin with a photo and weave seemingly accurate false facts around them. The Weekly World News once published a tattered photo of an elderly women delivering newspapers and claimed she had been impregnated by a lad on her route. Editors must have figured the woman had died. Not so. The woman still was delivering newspapers and called her lawyer.

In case readers have the urge to seek the Isla del Coco treasure, the island, of course, is a national park with long-term visitors prohibited. One treasure seeker lived for years there around the turn of the 20th century and only had a few gold coins as a reward.

The isolated island, just a degree and a half above the equator would be a perfect place to hide pirate loot. And some may have done so. Online sources suggest at least three treasures are on the island. Local sources suggest there is yet another treasure underwater off the island.

The Treasure of Lima was the wealth of the city entrusted by the Spanish viceroy to a sea captain in the port as revolutionary forces approached in 1820. The sea captain fled with the gold and silver and is believed to have reached Isla del Coco.

Those who seek treasure have plenty of options without bothering the park rangers at Isla del Coco. Experts suggest that the Caribbean and the near Pacific hold hundreds of sunken ships from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

One of these is the San José, which ran aground in the Gulf of Panama June 17, 1631. It was  loaded with gold and silver.  A private firm discovered the wreck in 2003. The U.N. Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization said Tuesday that it would send a team in July to evaluate the wreck as part of the country’s underwater heritage.

That ship is not to be confused with a more famous San José that was sunk by a British warship June 8, 1708, off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia. The craft, which is supposed to contain a 10-year accumulation of Spanish wealth in the Americas, has been tied up in litigation, and there is some question if the exact location is known.  The wreck may be down 900 feet.

The value of the cargo could be as much as $1 billion today.treasure032915

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