Tampa Treasure Hunters Have to Return Booty

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A U.S. Supreme Court justice has rejected an appeal by Florida deep-sea explorers who wanted to hold onto a trove of Spanish shipwreck treasure while the courts finish sorting out ownership rights.

Federal courts have ruled that the 17 tons of silver coins and other artifacts found by Odyssey Marine Exploration off the Portuguese coast belong to Spain and must be surrendered.

Odyssey sought to delay handing it over while the company continued its appeals.

A federal court rejected the request for a stay last week.

Odyssey appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Justice Clarence Thomas denied the application without comment on Thursday.

Odyssey said there is at least one other motion for an emergency stay before the U.S. Supreme Court.