As Deadliest Catch returns to Discovery tonight, it is an opening episode fraught with one disappointment after the next.
Captain Keith Colburn pulls up pot after pot all without any usable or saleable amounts of precious live crab.
Most die-hard Deadliest fans know that Captain Keith never fishes in the same spots, but this year it is proving to be even harder to determine where the crab will be.
Why? It is because the Bering Sea is getting warmer.
In our exclusive clip, the guys on deck are pulling up pots. Excited at first, their mood goes south fast.
Lots of little juveniles and pregnant females, not a lot of meaty big clawed males. “I’m not on my game yet, I’m too far south,” laments Captain Keith.
Indeed, and as we see in the clip as each pot is pulled up, over and over, there is no crab.
The guys are progressively getting more frustrated and Captain Keith wears his disappointment all over his face.
One of the reasons this season is so tough on him and the other captains is that the crab shortage was actually forecast back in the summer of 2016 before production of this season of the show.
According to Dr. Bob Foy of the Kodiak Fisheries Science Laboratory (via Alaska Fish radio): “Crab recruitment takes years and depends on environmental conditions as well as mortality from predators.
“This means that in less favorable conditions, the minimum stock sizes may be lower as well, as the entire productivity of the fishery is down.”
The report also quotes Ruth Christiansen, science advisor to the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers Association, who added: “This year, 2016, is one of hottest on record for water temperature. Both sea surface temperatures and ocean floor.
“There are no cold pools anywhere, unlike 2012 when we saw one of the largest cold pools on record.”
This warmer water makes for a very inhospitable environment for the crab populations to flourish, and that is what our brave sea captains are hunting.
We hope things pick up for the guys on the Wizard and the rest of the Deadliest Catch crew.
Make sure to tune in tonight…
Deadliest Catch airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Discovery.