Before the Wicked Tuna franchise moved to the coast of the Outer Banks, the vessels occupied the waters of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Known as America’s oldest seaport, the region has been the fishing capital for bluefin tuna and other species for centuries. While this was an important spot for professional fishermen, not many outside of the industry understood the area’s significance. Once the show aired in 2012, though, the town’s popularity exploded. Soon enough, fans flocked to the docks to watch the tuna boats come in with their bounty.
Wicked Tuna star and captain of the Hot Tuna T.J. Ott may not be a Gloucester native, but the seasoned angler has become well-familiar with the community. Over the years, he’s seen how the show has changed the area.
“It rejuvenated the tourism industry,” Ott shared with Discover Gloucester. “Not that Gloucester wasn’t a popular destination before, but now people are searching it out like they did right after The Perfect Storm came out.”
And fishermen aren’t the only ones that appreciate the attention that the show has brought to the small town.
“On any given day, 40-50 people will come down to my boat, and they’re staying in the local hotels, eating at the local restaurants. Every local business owner will tell you that Wicked Tuna has had a positive effect,” Ott continued.
“Gloucester was always the bluefin capital of the world and now people are coming to experience that for themselves. Just this past year, a family from Ireland came to my boat and their whole vacation was to come to Gloucester to see the Wicked Tuna boats.”
‘Wicked Tuna’ Star Explains What Makes Gloucester ‘Special’
While bluefin tuna certainly gave Gloucester its recent fame, it isn’t the only marine life that encourages tourism. According to Wicked Tuna star Ott, the community has a flourishing whale population.
“Other than bluefin, Gloucester has a variety of species you can fish for but one thing that really blows people away is the whale life,” Ott explained. “In Gloucester, you can see humpbacks and minkes, they’re all right here. As fishermen, it’s something we see on a daily basis but for many people, seeing these whales is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In Gloucester, you can catch bluefin, you can catch stripers, you can see whales—it’s part of what makes it such a special place.”
As the Wicked Tuna star detailed, there’s much to behold under the surface of Gloucester’s waters. This is why even after the show moved down south, many fans still frequent the area. Of course, these visitors hope to see their favorite vessels on the water. But they also hope to catch a glimpse of the real stars – the tuna.