Diving Legend Teddy Tucker Passes Away

June 10, 2014

Teddy Tucker — a world class marine explorer — has passed away, leaving Bermuda to honour the loss of a local legend.

Considered to be one of the most preeminent in his field, Mr. Tucker’s extensive underwater work brought both him and Bermuda to the attention of the world, and he leaves behind a legacy of excellence in his field that will be difficult to match.

The son of architect Edward Tucker, Mr. Tucker’s first job was at the Bermuda Aquarium, which ignited his passion for the ocean. This passion continued when he joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16, and remained a dominant force throughout his life.

He began exploring the ocean’s buried treasures in the late 1940s; in his decades-long career, he discovered over 100 historic shipwrecks in Bermuda’s waters, found numerous sunken treasures, was featured in international films and magazines, and served as a consultant worldwide.

Interview with Teddy Tucker courtesy of LookTV

World-renowned for his treasure hunting, Mr. Tucker’s notable finds included gold bars, silver coins, swivel guns, ancient hand grenades, brass dividers, timing glasses, brass cylinders, bronze mortars, pewter plates, porringers, pottery cruets, and Carib Indian weapons.

The May 9, 1965 issue of The Herald-Journal, an American newspaper, quotes Mr. Tucker as saying he had made close to $500,000 from his finds to that date – which was nearly 50 years ago.

His most famous find is considered one of the most valuable pieces of sunken treasure ever recovered: the emerald-studded 22 karat gold Tucker Cross. Discovered by Mr. Tucker in 1955, it is believed to have come from San Pedro, a Spanish galleon which was lost on the reefs in 1594. He sold it to the Government of Bermuda in 1959, saying “he wanted it to remain on the island forever.”

The Tucker Cross:

Tucker Cross with Back

In 1975, just before an official visit by Queen Elizabeth II to the Maritime Museum to view the treasure, it was discovered that somehow the Tucker Cross had been stolen and a replica left in its place.

Despite an investigation which reputedly involved the Bermuda Police, the FBI, Scotland Yard, and Interpol, the original has never been recovered, and the crime remains one of both Bermuda’s and the marine community’s greatest unsolved mysteries.

In 1994, Mr. Tucker was honoured by the Queen with the appointment to Member of the British Empire.

Mr. Tucker’s wide range of ocean adventure’s caught the attention of marine enthusiasts and treasure hunters around the world; as “Jaws” author Peter Benchley once said, “Teddy Tucker’s legendary undersea exploits helped bring Bermuda to the attention of the world — and helped to bring the world to Bermuda.”

Mr. Tucker was the inspiration for his longtime friend Mr. Benchley’s 1976 bestseller “The Deep,” and the subsequent blockbuster movie adaptation which was partly filmed in Bermuda.

In November 2011, Mr. Tucker published an account of his life and work in the appropriately titled Treasure! A Diver’s Life, a lavishly illustrated account of his seven decades exploring the seas both around Bermuda and all over the world.

Mr. Tucker signs copies of Treasure! A Diver’s Life [photo courtesy of BUEI]


Noted for his wide-ranging influence, Mr. Tucker, alongside members of the Smithsonian Institute, developed the grid system for surveying wreck sites in 1957.

He went on to be a guest of the former Soviet Union at a Marine Symposium in 1990, worked with National Geographic in the Marshall Islands, Pacific Ocean in 1996, and worked again with National Geographic in New Zealand in 1997.

His notable exploits also lead him to be featured in numerous books and magazines around the world for more than 50 years, including Life, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, hundreds of newspapers, and numerous dive magazines.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Commodore JB of BBIRYC says:

    This is a very sad day. On behalf pf BBIRYC, I wish to extend our sincere condolences to the friends and family of Mr. Tucker. He should be named a national hero for his contributions to Bermuda.

  2. What Do You Think says:

    My Condolences to the Tucker family. Teddy was a great person, full of charisma and in-depth wealth of knowledge. He was the Jacque Cousteau of Bermuda. If my memory serves me correctly he has also done dives with Mr. Cousteau here in local waters. Mr. Tucker a Legend in his own right

  3. Food for thought....... says:

    I wonder if Teddy Tucker has ever been considered for National Hero Recognition??????

    • kat says:

      Well he is one to me. Rest in peace

    • We Say says:

      I was just going to say that – add him to the list! Thanks for his contribution to our history and sharing of knowledge.

    • JAWS says:

      Thank you Teddy. RIP

  4. haha says:

    Where did you hide my cross?!?!?!

  5. RIP Teddy, wonderful man.

  6. Scott Stallard says:

    Teddy was a unique man in so many ways.
    He was a library of experience and knowledge, eager to share it.
    Never interested in blowing his own horn, his focus was on all that
    was interesting and important to us all, especially our long relationship
    with the ocean. A life of contribution.
    A true family man who will be sorely missed.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself .

      Always eager to share his wealth of knowledge with anyone interested enough to ask .

      Here’s someone who , more than may others , deserves to be recognized as a true Bermudian hero.

      Sincerest condolences to Edna and Wendy .

  7. Fruity says:

    He’s certainly going to be a miss… not to be forgotten, his gift & passion. :(
    I had hoped my son (who has same interest) could’ve met him.

  8. WhistleBlower says:

    R.I.P. Mr Tucker, you were one of the many gems to come out of Bermuda. Thank you for your dedication, love, education and diligence for our underwaters.

  9. There is a special that he orates on his life and times,I saw it on the Bermuda channel….lets put it on tv every year….not as a comemorative…but as a celebatory on his birthday.He’s one of these byes that your not sad that he is gone,more over….you are happy that he was…

  10. He hd a good innings…

  11. Betty Rech says:

    Teddy the Hero of Bermuda… great man will miss you around the Mangrove Bay Waters…. thinking of you Lisa and your Mom and Aunty and family…

  12. Kathy says:

    YES – give him a heroes day!!!! He put Bermuda on the diving map!!!!

    Lovely Bermudian!

  13. Ernie says:

    Teddy will be missed I will never forget the day he let my Olive Brooker She is the daughter of Alfred Cabral who passed in 2012 She was doing a report on a Astrolay for her history class So he took olive the vault and had pictures taken Rest in Peace you will be missed but you are on a new mission thank you for the history

  14. Lt Cdr Nigel Davies RN(Rtd) says:

    Greatly saddened to hear of the passing of Teddy Tucker. My family were greatly privileged to know Teddy, Edna and Wendy during the last years of HMS Malabar.
    Diving with Teddy was always an education and I learnt so much about the life and history of Bermuda in his company. He was a great character and a perfect Gentleman, uncomplicated, learned, generous and the most contented man I ever met. Memories of diving days on board ‘Miss Wendy’, fishing days off the Argus Bank and evenings at ‘King’s Point’ with one of Edna’s rum swizzles will always remain with me. A great family man and a great Bermudian. My family send their heartfelt condolences to Edna and Wendy.

  15. MSG Vinton L. Stanfield (USA Special Forces retired, Manager of US-NAS Commissary/Exchange in Somerset, 1990-95)
    We are saddened to hear that Teddy has taken his final diving trip. Michele and I sailed from Puerto Rico to Bermuda in July 1990. When we arrived in Somerset on the “Texas Tumbleweed, Teddy was the one that caught our dock line and was the first Bermudian to welcome us to Bermuda. We became good friends and always considered the Tucker clan an extension of our family. It was meant to be that way since my wife’s maiden name was “Tucker”. He provided such wonderful support to the British, Canadian and American forces, military and civilian and their families located on the west-end of Bermuda. We still have three of Teddy’s painted pictures hanging in our home. Michele and I express our sincere sympathy to Edna and Wendy’s loss but I am sure Teddy is diving in the right place. (To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…)