A docu-series about a quest for sunken treasure that began in space nearly 50 years ago and is now continuing on the seafloor hits New Zealand TV screens this week.
The series, Cooper’s Treasure, follows the journey of US treasure hunter Darrell Mikos who is on a search for shipwrecks documented by his friend a NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper in 1963.
In the early 1960s Cooper was orbiting earth on a US mission when he discovered mysterious dark spots, known as anomalies, in the ocean near the Bermuda triangle.
He figured the spots were shipwrecks, and in the hope it could lead to wealth beyond his wildest dreams, spent several decades making a treasure map.
It was a secret he would keep for over 40 years, but one he eventually shared with Miklos who has picked up the quest to find the treasure.
Speaking to RNZ’s Kathryn Ryan, Miklos says it all began when Cooper was given the task of identifying possible nuclear threats from space.
As he was taking down coordinates, or anomaly readings, he found 60 small anomalies which he began to realise were likely associated with old shipwrecks.
He took the coordinates down and started to create his treasure map back on earth, Miklos says.
“He brought a large sea chart and drew circles around the smaller anomalies and went out to investigate them.
“With that he managed to produce files, probably about 14 inches thick… over the years, and he didn’t disclose that to me until I actually got to know him in my thirties and shared an office with him.”
Miklos says the pair became close friends.
“He finally told me one day, well I need to tell you something, there’s a lot more to the files than I originally exposed to you, I need you to take these if anything ever happens to me, just finish what I wasn’t able to do.”
Cooper recorded all of the anomalies he saw from space on a large sea chart which he would then investigate by plane or boat, and eventually dive to explore further.
He only investigated 10 of the 60 anomalies he recorded on the chart, Miklos says, as one anomaly could yield up to 15 wreck sites.
The map has possible sites in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, off Florida, Central America and South America.
Miklos has now hired a team to carry on Cooper’s work and they have managed to identify wrecks in five of those areas.
“And in each one of those five anomaly areas we’ve positive identified shipwreck material, and in some cases more than we even imagined would have been there.”
Mikos is keeping tight-lipped about exactly what they’ve found, but says they have been able to identify material from the colonial period.
“We stand a good chance of bringing up something of historical and commercial value.”
Miklos says the proceeds of any wreck findings will be shared with the countries in which they are discovered.
The series, Cooper’s Treasure premieres on the Discovery Channel at 9.30pm on 4 May.