Tucker's Cross and the Pirate Treasures of Bermuda

Teddy Tucker was a treasure hunting pioneer, an acclaimed diver and explorer whose treasure-hunting exploits inspired books and  Hollywood films. Tucker discovered more than 100 shipwrecks in Bermuda waters, and was a founding member of the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI). Tucker was a true Bermudian, with family roots on the island dating back to the 1700s. His friend and author, the late Peter Benchley, once described Tucker as the man who “brought the world to Bermuda, and Bermuda to the world”. His adventures inspired the Jaws author to write his second novel The Deep, which in 1977 was filmed in Bermuda and included Teddy in the cast.

Tucker's maritime career, which began with his first job at the Bermuda Aquarium, made international headlines in 1955 when he discovered one of the most precious treasures ever recovered from the sea. Dubbed the Tucker Cross, the gold and emerald crucifix, taken from the Spanish wreck San Pedro, was featured on the cover of Life magazine. Tucker found the San Pedro wreck in tandem with Smithsonian Institution curator Mendel Peterson, with whom he collaborated on the grid method of underwater archaeology. He also discovered the six-gilled shark in local waters and, in 1983, helped found the Beebe Project, dedicated to the study of deep-sea life. His friend and fellow diver, former Premier David Saul, said the Island had lost “a true national treasure” with his passing.

“Teddy Tucker was recognized as one of the fathers of modern marine archaeology, and was revered by scientists, academics and divers on every continent,” Dr. Saul said.

“If it had not been for the Second World War, in which he served in the navy and was an underwater demolition expert, he would have made a phenomenal university professor: his knowledge of ships, history, dates and numbers was incredible — one could literally spend all day and night, as I have done on all-night fishing trips, just listening to his stories. His marine knowledge, including fish big and small, from invertebrates to whales, was encyclopedic.”

Tucker was a member of the Explorers Club, as well as a Charter Member of the Hellenic Institute of Marine Archaeology. In 1991 he was presented with the Distinguished Service Award by the Underwater Society of America, and he was awarded the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire medal in 1994 by the Queen. In 2000, the New York Explorers’ Club awarded Mr Tucker with the Lowell Thomas Award.

He found more than 100 shipwrecks around Bermuda, including the treasure ship San Pedro, which contained the famous gold and emerald “Tucker Cross”. Teddy Tucker’s most notable find, a 22-karat gold cross known as the Tucker’s Cross found in shallow waters in 1955. In 1975, the Cross was moved to the Bermuda Museum of Art to be displayed for Queen Elizabeth II. No one knows when, or how, but during this transition, a clever thief replaced the original with a cheap plastic replica. See the discovery of this amazing lost treasure by watching the 1955 Bill Burrud True Adventure TV show below. 


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