From the creators of the award-winning reality television show ‘Deadliest Catch’, comes an equally popular show – ‘Bering Sea Gold’, set on the same waters in Alaska where all the crab fishing takes place. The show, also known in the UK as ‘Gold Divers’, follows the lives of the local gold miners, and while it may not be as dangerous a job as crab fishing, ‘Bering Sea Gold’ still provides plenty of excitement and suspense for its many fans.
The show follows the split segments of seasonal dredgers in spring and summer, while the ‘Ice’ series documents the activities of camping dredgers. Set in Nome, Alaska and the shallow waters of the Norton Sound inlet, the miners combat the environment while dealing with everyday struggles.
— Bering Sea Gold (@BeringSeaGold) October 10, 2020
The show’s suspense draws on failing equipment, personal issues, and surviving the tough competition of the local gold mining exploits. ‘Bering Sea Gold’ has achieved wide popularity, rated as the third highest Friday telecast on Discovery Channel, and even promoted a massive increase of hopeful divers for gold to flock to Nome.
While local businesses appreciate the new flow of customers, it has placed an unnecessary strain on the industry. Unfortunately, not every miner can achieve success in this sometimes lucrative industry, and more often than not, hopeful dredgers return home empty-handed.
Unlike many other reality shows, much like ‘Deadliest Catch’ it is safe to say that ‘Bering Sea Gold’ documents true reality, however, that does not mean the show isn’t hiding a few secrets.
While some might not be as dark but more intriguing, the show nonetheless hosts a few cast members with scandalous pasts, and has caused its fair share of problems off camera, including some of the dredgers and miners getting into serious trouble with local government.
Cause and Effect
At the end of the first season, viewers realised that the miners of ‘Bering Sea Gold’ raked in fortunes as high as six or even seven-figure profits, with the Christene Rose achieving $1.3 million. Naturally, people’s greed lured them to the shores of Nome, hopeful to achieve the same lucrative success.
As mentioned, regulations prevent just anybody from mining for gold, and many of the new prospective miners, with all their equipment, were sent home disappointed. However, causing a sudden gold rush to the town of Nome is not the only problem the show created.
The mining techniques used by the dredgers, called dredge suction mining, is considered a bad practice in many other parts of the world, and some states in the US even ban the use of this technique.
In layman terms, the technique basically consists of sucking up material from the sea bed, and can be harmful to the local water and marine life. California is one of the states disposed against suction mining, but after miners watched the show, they began proposing the same lucrative technique.
Of course, this caused a headache for Californian local government, who are yet to pass the technique, and for now, it remains banned in the state.
Rags To Riches
The sudden gold rush may have attracted plenty of greedy and opportunistic individuals. However, the lure of lucrative gold mining in the town of Nome has attracted many people considered far down on their luck.
One such person even made it onto the show, but according to Emily Riedel, gold mining is not a get-rich-quick exploit. Riedel has since become a hit on the show, and a fan favourite which some might think was because she made a couple of appearances in her bathing suit.
Of course, this caused a little trouble for the show, especially because Alaska’s not the best place to go sunbathing. Aside from flaunting her beauty, Riedel’s story intrigued many viewers. She initially gained an interest in gold mining after a friend implored her to try it out, mostly because they believed one could make a lot of money quickly and effortlessly.
Riedel travelled to Nome with little more than $300, and for a long time lived as a squatter down on her luck – that was, until Discovery Channel approached her with a proposition to appear on the show.
For a long time she tried her luck at panning for gold, only barely getting by, and as such, she is living proof of how difficult the job can be.
Fortunately for Emily, her popularity on the show was more of a success than her mining career.
Every show needs an antagonist, either to produce excitement, cause drama or to create conflict. While many reality shows often script the role for one or several characters, it seems that with ‘Bering Sea Gold’, it happens naturally.
The villain in question in this show is Scott Meisterheim, who appears as an angry drunk, even in front of the cameras. It’s not only fans who don’t like Scott, but also the production crew. At the end of the second season, Scott gwas caught on camera during a confrontation with one of the camera operators. According to the cameraman, Scott became angry because they filmed the sensitive parts of his life, despite which, the crew continued to film his poor behaviour.
However, it’s not the only villainous traits Scott possesses. At the start of the show, he reveals that he left his wife in search of the golden riches of Alaska, travelling from Nevada to try his luck at mining.
Aside from that, he also has two estranged children with different women in Arizona and Michigan. To make matters worse, Scott owes his daughters or their mothers $21,000 in child support money. Things got so bad that the police issued an arrest warrant against him, and he had to appear in court.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, Scott never made it past the third season of ‘Bering Sea Gold’.
One of the more shocking and scandalous things done by the producers of ‘Bering Sea Gold’ involved the sad departure of John Bunce in 2013. Bunce became a fan favourite, and his untimely passing was a huge blow for both the show and fans.
Although the reasons remain obscure, fans now know that Bunce took his own life. Instead of issuing a truthful statement to inform the viewers about the sad news, the producers attempted to exploit the situation, simply so that they could rake in higher viewer numbers.
Promotions of the show which featured the aftermath of Bunce’s demise were tweaked to create the impression that John met his ill fate during a dive. Naturally, viewers and fans tuned in, hoping to see where, when and how things went wrong for the young diver on the vessel ‘The Edge’, only to be disappointed.
While nobody wanted to see the disturbing footage, everyone wanted to at least know what happened. While it generated plenty of anticipation and interest, the producers’ choice also caused widespread anger among fans.
Not only were they angry that the show would exploit such grim misfortune, but the disrespect of not informing fans of the truth also created disapproval.
A Reunion of Conflict
While producers commonly reserve reunion shows for more dramatic reality television dramas, such as ‘Real Housewives’ where viewers get drawn by the raging conflict, it seemed odd that a show like ‘Bering Sea Gold’ would hold a reunion.
However, the producers knew what they were doing, as it paid off for them in the end. At the reunion, two of the leading cast members, Vern Adkison and, you guessed it, Scott Meisterheim, began flinging accusations around.
The one accused the other of deceit and vice versa. Words turned to action rather quickly, and a scuffle between the two broke out. The resulting fight became something of a legend in reality drama, and still receives mention among fans. What many don’t know about the fight is that they never staged it, and the conflict between the two characters was as real as it got.
The miners are making one last push for profits before the ice vanishes. 🥶 💰
— Bering Sea Gold (@BeringSeaGold) October 9, 2020
Police had to intervene to break up the fight, and both Vern and Scott received medical attention, although only for minor scrapes and bruises. Regardless, the incident provoked massive interest, and viewer ratings quickly rocketed to new heights.
Despite being unscripted, and the producers claiming it wasn’t planned or staged, fans considered that they knew what would happen with both these men in the same room.
Yvonne Goes Wild
Yvonne Adkison, Vern’s youngest daughter, joined her father’s crew on the ‘Wild Ranger’ vessel for the fourth season of ‘Bering Sea Gold’, after featuring in a couple of previous episodes.
Unfortunately, Yvonne’s career in reality television came to an end when she made the news in 2014, when she and a man named Kevin Beamish, became the subjects of a drug-related investigation that resulted in their arrests.
This latest bust by Nome police made local news, and fans were shocked to discover Yvonne’s involvement with substance-related crimes.
Following an extensive prosecution, Yvonne received her sentencing in September 2017. At the time of her arrest, Yvonne was 22-years-old, but despite her young age and clean record, the judge didn’t take pity on her. She received a two-year sentence, but with the time she’d already spent in detention deducted, Yvonne would only have to serve a year behind bars.
Since her release, Yvonne has moved on to pursue a career in hairstyling, so it seems that Yvonne won’t return to the show, or follow her father’s footsteps into the mining industry.
Shawn’s Drinking Habit
It seems Scott is not the only cast member with a drinking problem. Shawn Pomerenke, the son of Steve and co-owner of the most profitable vessel featured on the show, the ‘Christene Rose’, has had multiple run-ins with the law because of his drinking habit.
Things got so bad for Shawn that the show paints him as the one cast member who’s been arrested the most. In fact at one point, the court ordered Shawn to keep a breathalyser in his car.
However, it did not improve his habit, as Shawn was later arrested for neglecting to comply with the order. This forced the law to impound his car, which still didn’t convince Shawn that his habit had become a serious problem.
Never a Loss
There are several reasons reality television producers prefer filming in Alaska, but these might surprise some, as they aren’t the most obvious. Most people would consider the beautiful landscape, as well as the many dangerous jobs and extreme conditions, as the main attractions.
Unfortunately, though, the chief reason is always greed. While Alaskan reality might interest the viewers, the biggest attraction for producers is the amount of profit to be made in Alaska.
The producers of ‘Bering Sea Gold’, who are also responsible for other productions that include ‘Deadliest Catch’ and ‘Ice Road Truckers’, received more than $300,000 in subsidies from the local government for each show.
As long as the production hires local workers and portrays the state in a positive light, they remain eligible for the subsidies. Of course, in simple terms this means that even if the show becomes a commercial failure, the producers would hardly suffer any losses.
Despite the popularity of the show, the locals of Nome are not too fond of ‘Bering Sea Gold’ or its cast. The city manager of the mall town, Josie Bahnke, wrote a letter of complaint to the Alaskan Department of Natural Resources, concerned about the impact the show and mining have on the local setting.
Of course, the city council’s concerns weren’t unfounded, mostly because the miners allegedly use bad techniques, but as can be expected, once the show heard about the letter they didn’t like it.
Vern Adkison lashed back at the council, claiming that he has the same rights as any other citizen of Nome.
The letter did, however, gain the attention of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), who took to their website to cast a bit of a shadow on the show. The DNR’s biggest concern was that the show makes it seem that there are no regulations covering mining gold in Nome.
On their site, they further discourage random people from travelling to Nome with the hope of digging for gold, stating that the public is not allowed any claim to the gold. Naturally, DNR blames ‘Bering Sea Gold’ for misleading the public.
Some of the legal issues that involved the show and its cast may have been minor problems, but one occasion didn’t seem so innocent. Captain John Mehelich landed in hot water after his ship, the ‘Sound Developer’, sank in the waters of Cordova Harbor.
Does this rainbow lead to a pot of gold? 🌈Bering Sea Gold starts NOW
According to the US Coast Guard, the incident caused severe environmental damage, for which the local government sued the skipper. Not only did the coast guard claim that the ship leaked 450 gallons of oil into the water, but also filled it with dangerous debris.
For all the damages and the cost of retrieving the sunken ship, Mehelich received a $1.6 million fine which excludes any interest. Although no result of the lawsuit was made public, one can expect that Mehelich had to pay-up.
Considering these many intriguing facts, fans of ‘Bering Sea Gold’ may not view itwith the same acceptance. Nonetheless, we hope you enjoy watching the latest season. Currently, in its fourteenth season, which premiered on April first 2020, the show promises to unleash new drama and entertain with even more excitement.