‘Deadliest Catch’ Crew Members Get a Surprisingly Little Amount of Sleep

by Shelby Scott

18 seasons of Deadliest Catch have shown us just how dangerous it is to work as an Alaskan crab fisherman. However, it’s not only the job itself that makes crab fishing so intense. In addition to harsh weather, raging seas, and laborious work, irregular sleep schedules definitely make these crews’ occupations immensely demanding. In fact, given the environment aboard an Alaskan fishing vessel, the TV show’s crew members get a dangerously low amount of sleep.

Season 18 of Deadliest Catch has been full of drama. Specifically, our gaze remains locked on Captain Rip Carlton. Carlton, commander of the Patricia Lee, has had two medical emergencies take place on his vessel this year. As those episodes aired, it appeared Rip Carlton’s crew was experiencing majorly bad luck. However, now, thanks to a 2020 subreddit from one crew member, we know sleep deprivation may have caused those emergencies.

During a virtual ask-me-anything session, crew member James Gallagher, an engineer on the vessel Lady Alaska, revealed the longest he ever went without sleeping. Responding to Reddit user u/MiaChambo, Gallagher said, “During the Cod Derby in January I was awake for nearly 40 hours straight 3 different occasions in a 15 day season. It was my first time thrown into the engineer position so I was constantly trying to fix broken stuff.”

Altogether, he admitted, “I don’t think i slept more than 3 hours at a time the whole season.”

This is How Climate Change Has Affected ‘Deadliest Catch’

While there are certainly fictional attributes to Discovery’s Deadliest Catch, other aspects are very real—and, given the current climate crisis, climate change affects even our most favorite reality TV series. As the show continues to see enduring success into its 18th season, it also battles the realities of climate change.

During a 2017 interview with the Associated Press, Deadliest Catch executive producer R. Decker Watson Jr. spoke about how climate change affects the show. And how it’s actually unideal for him to talk about that aspect of things.

From the get-go, Watson Jr. explained how risky it is for him to speak about climate change since many people view it as a political issue. That said, he continued, “Really it isn’t. Particularly in the context of the fishing fleet.”

Above all else, the show’s executive producer highlighted how the warming of the Bering Sea has affected Deadliest Catch’s fishing fleets.

“When something like this comes up,” he explained, “it’s felt by all of us.”

That said, Deadliest Catch doesn’t plan to highlight climate change in the near future. The show’s EP explained, “At the end of the day, the job of ‘Deadliest Catch’ isn’t to teach people, it’s to keep people at the edge of their seats.”