Since it first aired on the Discovery Channel in 2005, Deadliest Catch has become one of the most successful reality shows on television. For 16 seasons, viewers have loved watching crab fishermen in the Bering Sea during the Alaskan fishing season.
The Mike Rowe-narrated show is now Emmy Award-winning and has helped shed light on how commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Apparently Alaskan crab fishing has an even higher fatality rate than the typical fishing job due to the tough conditions of the Northwestern Bering Sea during crab season. The rough storms and waves are regularly seen on the show, with the Deadliest Catch stars braving the weather to get their job done.
Here are some things you might not know about the popular show.
1. How much do they actually make during crab season?
It's estimated that the deckhands make around $30,000 for six weeks of work. Not too shabby! The Deadliest Catch captains are estimated to make around at least $200,000. Some of them are worth even more since they have participated in the spinoff series and make public appearances.
2. Phil Harris encouraged the cameras to keep rolling until the very end
Captain of the Cornelia Marie, Captain Phil Harris had been on the TV show since the very beginning. In the sixth season, he had a heart attack while filming but encouraged the crew to keep the cameras going. The cameras even panned to watch him get airlifted to a hospital in Anchorage for emergency brain surgery. Sadly, after eleven days in the ICU, Harris passed away. His sons Jake and Josh Harris were also cast members, and Josh ultimately took over his dad's boat.
3. Even though cameras are rolling, no one is actually safe onboard
When they say reality show...they mean reality. Captain Sig Hansen has claimed that the crew put their lives on the line every day, and that includes the cameramen. At one point, he had to save a cameraman's life when a crane holding 900 lbs of crab almost knocked him off the boat. The crewmembers are a bunch of badasses, living on the water for three to five-week stretches right alongside the fishermen. It's a dangerous job, but someone has to film it.
4. Elliott Neese was fined for his small king crab
The captain of the F/V Saga, Neese learned that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game doesn't mess around. He was fined $3,000 for delivering undersized red king crab. I'm sure that was the last time Neese's crab boat delivered small crab! Neese was a difficult captain and has even argued with fans of the show on social media...quite the trouble maker.
5. The Hillstrand brothers were involved in a major lawsuit
Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand, co-captains of the Time Bandit, got into some serious trouble with a former crew member, David Zielinski, in 2015. In 2013, they had him release some homemade fireworks onboard which resulted in him shattering the bones in his hand as well as part of his arm. The brothers had to pay out over a million dollars as a result.
6. The show almost ruined the crab fishing industry in Alaska
You might not realize how many crabs are needed behind the scenes to do reshoots. As a result, the popular show almost put local fishermen, who don't get to depend on the extra Discovery Channel income, out of business.
7. Bill Wichrowski is one of the most skilled captains on the show
Wild Bill Wichrowski has been catching crab since the '70s. For four years he also served his country in the U.S. Navy. Though we know him as captain of Cape Caution, he's worked various jobs on the boats over the years, making him incredibly dependable with his crew to handle any issues they face on the open sea.
8. Jake Anderson dealt with multiple hard personal losses on the air
Anderson was originally hired as a greenhorn by Sig Hansen to join the Northwestern in 2007. Not only did he find out in the show's fifth season that his sister had unexpectantly passed away, but, the following season, his father disappeared and was presumed dead (his remains were later found). He's been captain of the Saga since 2015.