Teddy Tucker: Grand old man and the sea
Author Peter Benchley – whose 1976 bestseller “The Deep” and the subsequent blockbuster movie adaptation were inspired by his friend’s maritime exploits – once said Teddy Tucker had brought Bermuda to the world and the world to Bermuda.
Mr. Tucker, now in his 80s, has been diving on shipwrecks locally and internationally since the late 1940s. In 1957, he and Mendel L. Peterson of the Smithsonian Institution, with other staff members from the Department of Armed Forces History, developed the grid system for surveying wreck sites.
For three years, Teddy Tucker taught marine archaeology with Mr. Peterson as a college accredited course for the University of Maryland.
In the past Mr. Tucker has owned, supplied and successfully operated a maritime museum in Hamilton and has acted as a consultant and an advisor of methods used in studying and identifying shipwrecks.
Mr. Tucker is a founding member of the Beebe Project in 1983. The Beebe Project is now worldwide, discovering and studying deep-sea animals using submersibles and specially designed cameras. Other founders include “National Geographic” photographer Emory Kristof , Dr. Eugenie Clark and Dr. Joseph MacInnis of Undersea Research, Canada. Mr. Tucker discovered the six-gill shark in Bermuda waters in the 1970s.
In 1983, Mr. Tucker worked with the French and in 1987 and 1989 with the Soviets. He and his family were guests of the former Soviet Union at a Marine Symposium in 1990. In 1990 the Soviet ship RV “Akademik Mystav Keldysh” came to Bermuda at Mr. Tucker’s suggestion to test the equipment before going to the “Titanic” wreck site to make the IMAX film “Titanica.”
In 1996, he worked with the National Geographic Society in the Marshall Islands, Pacific Ocean. In 1997, he worked with the National Geographic in New Zealand. Mr. Tucker and Mr. Steve Blasco, Geological Survey of Canada, were co-scientists on the Bermuda Sea Level Project with the Canadian Navy. The Bermuda Sea Level Project is an on going project.
Mr. Tucker has found more than one hundred shipwrecks around Bermuda including the 16th century treasure ship “San Pedro” containing the fabled gold and emerald Tucker Cross.
“Twice in five years I dived on the wreck, more out of curiosity than thoughts of gain,” he has said about his most famous discovery — the single most valuable piece of treasure ever recovered from the sea.
“One day in the summer of 1955, with nothing better to do, I went down for another look, within minutes I uncovered a small, five-sided piece of gold.