Odyssey Marine Exploration Incorporated (Nasdaq: OMEX), a deep-ocean exploration company, said Wednesday it found 48 tons of silver bullion, worth some $38 million at current prices, on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean some 300 miles off the Irish coast.

The silver, which lay some three miles beneath the ocean surface, was part of a larger silver shipment on the SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled British cargo ship that sank in February 1941, that was hauling 1,203 silver bars or approximately 1.4 million troy ounces of silver, the Tampa, Fla.-based company said.

The amount of silver bars recovered so far represents approximately 43 percent of the insured silver bars, or approximately 20 percentof the total silver cargo, which research has indicated may be on board. 

The recovered silver is being held in a secure facility in the United Kingdom. After unloading the cargo, taking on fuel and changing personnel, recovery operations will continue and are expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2012.

Odyssey is conducting the Gairsoppa project under contract with the U.K. Department for Transport. Odyssey bears the risk of search and recovery and retains 80 percent of the net salved value of the sunken ship's silver cargo after recovering its expenses, the company said.

Shares of Odyssey, which also Wednesday reported a second-quarter loss of $15.6 million, fell 35 cents, or 8.24 percent, to $3.90 in afternoon trading.