‘Deadliest Catch’ is a popular reality series on Discovery Channel, that documents the daily activities of several fishing boats and their crews. The seasonal fishing expeditions for king crabs and snow crabs are filmed on the Bering Sea, with the base of operations hosted in the port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
The show’s popularity attracts over 48 million viewers globally, and its success has earned a record-high number of nominations and awards, including several Emmys. ‘Deadliest Catch’, which derives its name from the danger associated with crab fishing as an occupation, made its television debut in 2005, and eventually inspired the creation of numerous reality TV series originating in Alaska.
Its follow-up spin-off creation, ‘After The Catch’, which follows the lives of the Captains on-shore, also inspired similar spin-offs of other shows.
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After sixteen seasons, ‘Deadliest Catch’ is still a fan favourite, and remains popular reality entertainment for an expansive fan base around the world.
The endless supply of drama and excitement draws on the fast-paced, long-hours work performed by the ships’ crews, and while being a dangerous occupation, the show nonetheless has a few light-hearted moments. The unpredictable and frightening weather of the Bering Sea means that the show has filmed several tragic events, which includes the near-death experiences of two skippers.
Like numerous reality shows entertaining the world today, ‘Deadliest Catch’ hides many secrets and interesting trivial facts that many of its fans might not know. Despite most of these facts being simple fun-to-know trivia, the show is no stranger to legal disputes and a few controversial moments.
Fear not, though, because it might only add to the entertainment in the end, and would not change one’s perspective about the reality behind Alaska’s crab fishing industry.
It seems that ‘Deadliest Catch’ not only left a lasting impression on the audience but also won the favour of several award election boards as well. When it comes to Emmy awards, most would consider incredible acting performances as nominations, such as the likes of Tom Hanks in ‘Forrest Gump’ or Charlize Theron’s transformation in ‘Monster’.
Considering that a reality series would dominate at such prestigious award ceremonies, would make people wonder about how fake the (so-called) reality is, but with ‘Deadliest Catch’ this is far from the truth. To date the series has earned a total of 107 nominations at a variety of award ceremonies, of which the show has won 28.
Their first three, Emmy nominations, were in 2006, and the following year they gained a fourth nomination. In 2010 the show won its first Emmy, granted to the exceptional work done by the sound production crew.
The following year in 2011, they won all their nominated categories, which included an award for Outstanding Cinematography. All of which merely proves the show’s popularity rises from the impressive work done by the creators, Original Productions.
Cause and Effect
‘Deadliest Catch’ might be one of Discovery Channel’s most successful shows, and certainly among the most popular, but apparently Alaskans have grown tired of its production. The locals might even have good reason for loathing the show, as it has apparently caused problems of great concern to local fisherman societies and industry.
All of the ships and captains involved in the production of ‘Deadliest Catch’ are funded by the production company, and ultimately Discovery Channel.
While this boasts well for the captains and their vessels, as it means that they operate at far greater profits than ever before, the local community is not doing particularly well.
Local fishermen have slowly been pushed out of the industry, since the show created more competition, and resources get used up much quicker than before, and could eventually even dry up completely. Local fishermen who continue to work the Bering Sea, now earn far less than they did before the show’s inception, and quite often are forced to make do with minimal earnings.
To make matters even worse, environmental factors also weigh in on the future of crab fishing, which might cause the industry to die prematurely, leaving many Alaskan households without livelihoods or a future.
All the viewers will be aware of how dangerous and unpredictable the Bering Sea is, but few fans, except for sea hardy enthusiasts, would know about the many intricate factors that influence conditions out on the water. If so, then they might be intrigued to know about the planetary influences the crews and vessels of ‘Deadliest Catch’ prepare for, which includes the phases of the moon.
It might be common knowledge to know that the moon affects the tides of the ocean, but as sea travellers, the fishermen on the show have to stay informed about planetary changes. A lapse in consideration of this seemingly minor factor could result in a severe tragedy that might even end up costing a crew their lives, if not their boat.
In 2018, an event on the show depicted just how much of an influence the moon can be, and how dangerous conditions become because of the gravitational factors posed by the moon.
An event known as a ‘Supermoon’, characterised as the precise alignment in the orbit of the moon when it is closest to the Earth, was filmed on the show. While providing dramatic and entertaining footage, it posed a terribly real threat for the vessels and crews stranded on the sea.
Politicians and other officials might continue to argue about the reality of climate change, but when a reality television show begins complaining about it, it’s sure to become an actuality that gives rise for concern. Although ‘Deadliest Catch’ avoids mentioning it directly, and involving the show with on-going debates, environmental changes nonetheless impacted the show’s production as well as the crab fishing industry.
Recent changes to the waters, specifically a four-degree rise in temperature, have caused the crab population to migrate.
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Since crabs prefer colder water, large collectives of crab populus have moved deeper into the Bering Sea in search of appropriate living conditions.
Not only did this create greater difficulties for smaller fishing vessels incapable of navigating the deep sea, but it also made things harder for ‘Deadliest Catch’. The waters deeper in the Bering Sea are more dangerous and even harder to predict, which places the ships and crews in even worse hazards than before.
The show’s dedication to keeping its audience entertained convinced the captains to keep fishing, despite the newfound difficulties. However, although it might make the show even more entertaining, ultimately, for both the sea farmers and the production company, the cost could become too high.
In The Name Of Cinematography
Winning an Emmy Award for cinematography is no easy task, and doing it over and over again is an accomplishment that, to date, only seems possible for ‘Deadliest Catch’. The producers, and of course the camera crew, are certainly doing something right, but this has come at high costs.
Filming is usually done over a period of five weeks, during the time the ship and crew would be out on the waters, which means the two-man camera crew face the same hazards as the fishermen. During one incident, early in the creation of the show, a camera operator narrowly avoided severe injury from a 900-pound pot.
One of the captains on the show, Sig Hansen, fortunately prevented the possible accident by warning the cameraman of the imminent danger.
During the filming process, the camera crew follows all the fast-paced action, sticking with the fishing crew even during the most dangerous parts of their jobs, particularly inclement weather.
While providing exciting entertainment and winning accolades for their work, the camera crew has been unfortunate enough to break or lose expensive equipment. Some of the cameras have fallen overboard, or sustained damage from corrosion in the salty, humid conditions, as well as from heavy equipment.
While some reality shows are often scripted, the only script written for ‘Deadliest Catch’ is for the narrators, but the producers and editors are nonetheless guilty of creatively altering the truth about the show.
While it’s nothing serious or anything completely absurd, some changes were made to the show to improve the drama and excitement.
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One such example happened in 2008, when the ship and crew got caught in a storm. Some of the footage included dramatic waves, which were not actually to the event in question.
The footage was filmed at a later point, but thanks to the magic of editing, the producers fabricated a little extra drama to make it seem as if the crew faced bigger dangers than they actually did. However, the footage shown on the show are actual recordings filmed during production, and everything that happens on the boats is never scripted, or faked in any way.
Since the show produces more than enough to entertain its audience, only a few rare occasions were dramatised or exaggerated. Thus, fans of ‘Deadliest Catch’ can remain assured that it is mostly pure reality entertainment.
One of the most interesting trivia about ‘Deadliest Catch’ includes the ridiculous incident in which the show helped catch a bank robber. As peculiar as it sounds, this is no joke. During the production of the show from 2007 to 2009, a man by the name Joshua Tel Warner worked as a deckhand on the fishing vessel ‘Wizard’. In total Warner appeared in nine episodes, during which he got into frequent disputes and difficulties with other crew members, but, appearing on the show might be a foolish mistake and the only true regret Joshua would have.
Unknown to the producers and the crew, Warner had committed a series of bank robberies in Oregon before his appearance on the show. Viewers in Oregon recognised Warner as the robber from surveillance footage of the robberies shown on a local news report, and alerted police about their suspicions.
Another crew member, Freddy Maugatai, also had a run-in with the law, however, his case was not nearly as extreme. Police arrested Freddy in 2012 under misdemeanour assault charges, after he got in a fight with a married couple in a hotel bathroom.
Tragedies Caught On Camera
To prove how stressful the job of skipper can be, especially in the deadliest occupation, two separate tragedies were caught on camera during the filming of ‘Deadliest Catch’. Once was by accident, but the second incident became a statement broadcast to the world and the show’s many followers. Captain Sig Hansen, one of ‘Deadliest Catch’s’ favourite cast members suffered a heart attack which accidentally made it onto film, but it was not the end of his troubles. In 2016 Sig had yet another heart attack triggered by the medication he took for a sinus infection. Luckily, he was able to get medical treatment in time to make a full recovery.
During the sixth season of ‘Deadliest Catch’, the captain of ‘Cornelia Marie’, Phil Harris, another fan favourite, suffered a stroke while filming. Despite his poor health, Harris insisted that the camera crew keep filming, and assured the producer, Thom Beers, that he wanted everything in the episode as it unfolded. An emergency response helicopter rushed Harris to a hospital in Anchorage, where he underwent immediate brain surgery to reduce cranial pressure.
It became one of the most dramatic scenes of the series that roused concern from many fans, and unfortunately, a few days later, Harris succumbed to a cranial haemorrhage.
Jake’s Troubled Life
Following Phil’s passing, Discovery Channel hosted a memorial service in his honour, and announced that Phil’s son, Josh, would become the new captain of the ‘Cornelia Marie’.
However, his brother Jake is, by all considerations, the better fisherman, and fans hoped that he would become the replacement captain.
Despite the hopes of the audience, the decision was made on grounds of Jake’s troubled past, which producers feared might lead to complications. Previously, Jake faced charges of DUI and possession of illegal narcotics, after being pulled over when his girlfriend reported to police that he’d stolen her car.
In 2019, Jake once again faced similar charges, but this time caught with excessive amounts of heroin, and faced suspicions of intentional distribution or manufacturing. Jake’s struggle with substance abuse and misbehaviour could certainly have clashed with the production of ‘Deadliest Catch, so fortunately or unfortunately, the producers made the right choice.
Not The Deadliest Catch After All
In contrast to the name given to the show, fishing for snow crabs or king crabs is not actually the deadliest occupation.
However, the industry as a whole still has the highest death toll and injury rate than any other occupation.
In fact, the possibility of injury is a perfect 100%, which means that every crew member and person involved in crab fishing gets injured at some point during the span of their career. You might then wonder what is the deadliest catch?
Well, it is Dungeness crabs, found most commonly on the North American west coast, specifically Washington state. Dungeness crab fishing has the highest rated death toll, but injury-wise is equally as dangerous as fishing for King crabs and snow crabs.
While most of these facts would not likely dissuade anyone from watching nor believing in the reality of ‘Deadliest Catch’, it certainly places a new perspective on this crab fishing. When considering the lives at risk, and the loss witnessed on the show, hopefully fans would have more respect for the foul-mouthed sailors and the crabs we feast on.