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'Incredible' Discovery Triggers Gold Rush (Photos)

The discovery of a nugget of gold said to be part of a missing $173 million treasure haul has treasure hunters flocking to a beach in the UK.

Sixty-year-old gold prospector Vincent Thurkettle was searching for gold dust off the coast of Anglesey in Wales when he made the incredible discovery.

The nugget is about the size of a chicken's egg, according to The Daily Mirror. It weighs in at a stunning 97.12g and is worth more than $72,000.

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For context, the UK's next biggest nugget of gold, discovered in Cornwall more than 200 years ago, weighed 59g. Thurkettle's find is nearly twice as big.

The jewel is supposed to be part of a massive haul of gold that sank to the bottom of the sea when the Royal Charter was shipwrecked by a hurricane on Oct. 26, 1859. The Liverpool-bound ship was carrying gold from Australia. It is estimated that around 450 people died in the disaster, The Daily Mirror reports.

Since then, treasure hunters, including Thurkettle, have been searching for remnants of the lost trove.

For the last seven years, Thurkettle dedicated six weeks of his summer to scouring the shore for gold dust with family and friends. He spotted the nugget while shallow diving yards from the shore.

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"I was absolutely stunned when I first saw the nugget," he said, according to Wales Online. "The sun was out so the gold was gleaming and because it was under water it was magnified, so it looked huge."

"I was really only expecting to find gold dust, so I couldn't believe it when I [realized] it was a huge nugget," he said, adding that "it was a magical moment."

Though Thurkettle made the discovery in 2012, he first went public with the news on May 10, 2016.

Thurkettle's discovery was made close to a shipwreck, which required him to notify the Receiver of the Wreck. Because of that, the nugget now belongs to the Crown, according to The Daily Mirror. It will eventually be displayed in a museum, and Thurkettle will receive a finder's fee.

"It has broken my heart to part with the nugget, but I think it's important that it ends up in a museum for everyone to see," he said.

Other gold nuggets have recently been found in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, Devon, England, and Pembrokeshire, Wales, The Daily Mirror reports.

Sources: The Daily Mirror, Wales Online / Photo credit: Geoff Robinson via the Mirror

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