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Deadliest Catch FAQ's


Fishermen are superstitious by nature.  Many superstitions are as old as the profession itself.  And some are as unique as the fisherman, the result of a great fishing season he’s trying to replicate – or a terrible season he’s trying to forget.

Sig Hansen, captain of the Northwestern, is no different.  Here’s a sample of some of Sig’s personal superstitions:

  • I will not go to sea without pencils, erasers (taped to the end of the pencil) and Post-it notes.  For some reason, it drives me crazy not to have them.  If I don’t have them, I’ll turn the boat around and go back to town to get them.” 
  • “I got a New Zealand fish hook pendant as a gift.  I gave it to my daughter and every time she wore the pendant to her soccer games, they won.  So I took the pendant on the boat with me.  I figured if it worked for her it could work for me.  Now, if I get a new good luck charm, I test it out on my kids first.”
  • I hate when guys talk about how much money we’re going to make that season.  It’s best not to tempt fate by challenging it with arrogance – I always go into the season with a humble, grateful attitude.  Anything can happen out there.”
  • Don’t ever bring a suitcase on my boat.  This is an old superstition handed down through the generations and I don’t question it.  The first season the cameramen came on board, they had their camera gear in these suitcase-looking things.  I made them remove their equipment and they had to leave their suitcases on the dock.
  • Don’t step foot on my boat with bananas.  It’s bad luck.  I was on another boat in Dutch Harbor in January and they had bananas in the galley.  I couldn’t believe it.  I’ll bed they had a lousy season.”

And there are superstitions that, while few know where they came from, few ignore them.  Following are some popular maritime superstitions that are widely recognized today:

  • Never step on or off a boat by leading with the left foot.  This is thought to stem from sailors who are leery of things left-handed.
  • Never whistle on board a boat, especially in the wheelhouse.  Sailors used to think whistling onboard will raise a gale, hence “whistling up a storm.”
  • Never bring bananas on a boat.  The fastest sailing ships used to carry bananas from the tropics to U.S. ports to land the bananas before they could spoil. The banana boats were so fast that fishermen never caught anything while trolling for fish from them, and that’s where the superstition got started. Another theory is that a species of spider with a lethal bite likes to hide in bunches of bananas.
  • Never Set Sail on a Friday.  Since it is believed that Christ was crucified on a Friday, this day should be observed and respected. Therefore, it is considered unlucky to disembark on a Friday; many ships that have done so have been lost at sea. Legend says the British Navy fought this superstition: they laid the keel of a warship on a Friday, launched the vessel on another Friday, named the craft HMS Friday and sailed it out of port for the first time on Friday. It never made it back to the harbor again.

Behind the Scenes: DEADLIEST CATCH by the Numbers

5,000: The pounds of equipment the production team ships from Los Angeles to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to film DEADLIEST CATCH.

63: The number of cameras the film crew left Dutch Harbor with this season.  Only a third of those make it back to land in working order.  The others fall victim to the saltwater and frigid temperatures and accidents on deck.

8,000: The hours of footage that are shot over the course of king and opilio crab seasons, filling 5,000 videotapes.  This footage is painstakingly edited down to 16 one-hour episodes.

18: The number of cameramen used to film the fourth season of DEADLIEST CATCH.

11: The number of cameramen, of those 18, who returned from last year to shoot the new season. 

36: The average number of days a cameraman will spend at sea over the course of one complete season of DEADLIEST CATCH.

32: The record number of consecutive days a DEADLIEST CATCH cameraman spent at sea (a cameraman on the F/V Northwestern in the 2006 Cod/Opilio Season)

60: The number of seconds under which each cameraman must be able to put on his survival suit before he is allowed to go out to sea.

26: The number of seconds veteran cameraman Don Bland got into his suit during training.

4: The number of minutes someone can survive in the Bering Sea without a survival suit.


DEADLIEST CATCH follows boats during two crab seasons:  red king crab and opilio crab.

Red king crabs are the largest crab species, weighing an average of six to 10 pounds (with the record female and male weighing 10.5 and 24 pounds, respectively.  The male’s leg span was nearly 5 feet across).  Opilio crabs weigh an average of one to three pounds.

At about $4.50 per pound (up from $3.90 last year), fishermen can make between $27 and $45 for each red king crab they catch.  At about $1.70 per pound (up from $1.50 last year), an average opilio crab can fetch $1.70 to $5.10.

King crab season kicks off the same date each year: October 15.  While boats are also legally allowed to catch opilio in October, due to biological issues and market demand, most crews wait until January to fish their quota.

This season, around 80 boats headed out to sea to fish their share of crab, down from over 250 just two years ago (prior to rationalization).

This year, the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) was 18.5 million pounds for Bering Sea red king crab and 55 million pounds for opilio crab.  Per rationalization guidelines, each boat in the fleet was given a predetermined quota to catch.

The crab boats range in size from 58’ to 165’ (most are about 120’); each crew consists of a captain and three to nine deckhands.

The crabs are caught in 600-800 pound metal pots that are baited with ground herring, sardines or cod before they are dropped 400 feet below the surface.

Since crabs do not appear on radar or migrate in the same pattern each year, captains must rely on their experience and intuition to find the best locations to fish.

Adult king crabs are seldom found coexisting with the opposite sex, even though their habitats may overlap.

Fishermen are allowed to harvest only adult male crab.  All females and juveniles must be thrown back.

If a crab dies in the boat’s holding tank, it emits toxins that can poison the other crabs; one dead crab has the potential to wipe out the entire catch.

Fresh water, warm water or bad water circulation in the boat’s holding tank all have the potential to kill crab.  In fact, being in stagnant water will kill crab faster than being left out of the water.

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A special Amazon exclusive bundle, all three Deadliest Catch Seasons at a very special price!

Deadliest Catch Season 1:
Join Captain Rick Mezich and the crew of The Fierce Allegiance as they work the frigid waters between Russia and Alaska during the brutal '99 snow crab season, a season that took the lives of seven good men. Crab fishing in the middle of winter off the coast of Alaska is extremely dangerous. Now the hair-raising reality adventure comes to DVD in this thrilling 5-DVD set containing all 10 episodes: "Greenhorns," "Long Sleepless Nights," "Lady Luck," "Beat the Clock," "Dead of Winter," "Man Overboard," "High Hopes," "Good Fishing," "The Clock's Ticking," and "The Final Run."

Deadliest Catch Season 2:
Howling winds fierce enough to knock people off their feet, tossing waves, frigid temperatures. Swinging 700-pound crab pots for hours. Guaranteed injuries. Crews continue to forge into the frigid Bering Sea to compete against not only Mother Nature, but also against each other as they struggle in an increasingly regulated and cut-throat world to maintain a family tradition that has lasted for generations. This set contains 12 episodes of extreme adventure on the high seas!

Deadliest Catch Season 3:
Captain Sig Hansen of the Northwestern returns to match his skills against his old rival, Phil Harris of the Cornelia Marie, and a new challenger, rookie captain Blake Painter of the Maverick. With rough waters and fierce weather, the captains and their crews will be pushed to their limits of mental and physical endurance in their search for the elusive red king crab and opilio crab. Experience the extraordinary daring, skill and endurance required for this time-honored trade in these 11 episodes, and enjoy bonus behind-the-scenes footage capturing the difficulty of day-to-day filming on the rugged seas!

• Number of discs: 11
• Studio: Discovery Channel
• DVD Release Date: April 8, 2008
• Run Time: 1450 minutes

Deadliest Catch: The Pilot Episode DVD Deadliest Catch: The Pilot Episode DVD

Forty-foot waves, freezing temperatures and a nearly 100-percent injury rate. Crab fishing off the Alaskan coast on the icy Bering Sea is one of the world's most dangerous jobs. But it's also one of the most lucrative, offering tens of thousands of dollars for a few days' work. Follow one group of ambitious men as they battle harsh conditions and intense competition in the frenzied search for an undersea jackpot. The Deadliest Job in the WorldJoin Captain Rick Mezich and the crew of The Fierce Allegiance as they work the frigid waters between Russia and Alaska during the brutal '99 snow crab season – a season that took the lives of seven good men.Crab fishing in the middle of winter off the coast of Alaska is extremely dangerous. On average, one man will die every week, sent to a watery grave by rogue waves and sinking ships. Why do they do it? Perhaps because crab fishing is thought to be one of the last great gold rushes in the world. In a good year, an experienced deck hand working the short, eight-week season can bring home almost $50,000. But this isn't easy money. Crushed fingers, crippled hands, cracked ribs and broken feet are common in this working environment where the injury rate stands at almost one hundred percent.Presented in full screen format.

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