Not Your Mama's Tuna - Catching up with the Cast of Wicked Tuna in Gloucester MA

Friday, August 6, 2021

 I'll never again think of Charlie the Tuna when I open a can of tuna.  From now on when I think of tuna, I'll be remembering the day in Gloucester when I got to witness the Marciano family haul in a giant bluefin tuna and record their catch for the National Geographic series, Wicked Tuna.  Now that, my friend, is a tuna!

On the last day of our mini getaway to Rockport last week, we planned a stop in Gloucester so we could buy souvenirs for the grandkids at the Maritime Museum.  As luck would have it, the museum didn't open until 1:00 that day, so we decided to have some lunch at the Blue Collar Lobster Company which is an outdoor eatery right on the docks of Gloucester's working waterfront.  As we were walking towards the restaurant a customer leaving told us that we were just in time to see them hauling in a tuna.  That didn't seem like a big deal, really, since it's not uncommon to see fishermen unloading their catch at the docks in Gloucester.  What we didn't realize though was that this fish, this giant bluefin tuna, was a tv celebrity and the cameramen who I assumed were the local news cameramen were actually the cameramen from a tv show I'd never heard of, "Wicked Tuna".

Lucky for me one of the spectators of all the excitement was well aware of what was taking place and let me in on the details.  It was a fascinating process to watch, but it wasn't until I got home, did my research and watched a couple episodes of Wicked Tuna that I was more appreciative of what we were lucky enough to witness that day.  It's all about being at the right place at the right time!

 Here's what I learned....bluefin tuna is the most prestigious and luxurious tuna money can buy.  Unlike albacore or skipjack tuna in a can, bluefin is mostly found in restaurants and is sought out for its fatty meat and rich flavor for tuna steaks and sashimi.  It is so sought out in fact that Atlantic bluefin tuna is endangered and southern bluefin is critically endangered. The bluefin population is a fourth was it was in the 1950's.  Fortunately for the bluefin, the most regulated fisheries in the world are in the U.S.    Wicked Tuna documents the competition between several fishing crews all hoping to catch the biggest and most profitable tuna. These hard-working fishermen make their entire yearly salary in 10 weeks.  The crews travel three days from shore to Georges Bank since closer then that, the population has been depleted.   There they compete with weather and other eager fishing crews for the biggest tuna.  Each trip requires investing $1800+ in fuel, $500 in ice, $500 in bait and $200 in tackle (totaling over a $3000 investment for per trip).   These stats were taken from the very first episode of Wicked Tuna so  costs today are probably even higher.  A tuna can be worth $20,000.  It's easy to see why tuna fishing is a competitive endeavor.  Here's some  photos of this day's catch......

I emailed Captain Dave to ask the stats on this particular catch and he told me (as I suspected) that details were top secret and would have to remain so until the episode featuring this catch airs.  Whatever the weight - that's a lot of sushi!  Having now watched the show and knowing that these tuna are caught on rod and reel, and having watched my dad catch big walleye from Saratoga Lake....well, there's no comparison but that's a mighty large fish to reel in!  From it's arrival at the dock until it was loaded into a box truck and taken away, every part of the procedure was filmed.  Dave Marciano and his crew of Angelica Fisheries were  interviewed and filmed for an upcoming episode of Wicked Tuna. Gloucester is one of the oldest fishing ports in the country. So I imagine for locals, this is just an everyday occurrence but what a thrill it was for us to be there to see all that. Whether or not tuna fishing is something you're familiar with, this will probably change the way you view a restaurant menu or a can of tuna from your cupboard from now on.   You can catch Wicked Tuna on the National Geographic channel where it's been airing new seasons since its inception in 2012.  Captain Dave graciously took the time (at 5:30 in the morning) to email me and explain more about the current status of the bluefin population.  Dave also shared that he and the fishermen of today work hard with science and government to fish responsibly both to provide seafood to the public and to rebuild the supply.  He said and I'll quote, " And as stewards of the resource we believe and are proud of the fact that slowly over time we have gotten pretty good at living up to that expectation."  Thanks Dave, for taking the time to share your passion and dedication to this cause while working so hard to make a living.  And thank you for helping to bring it all to the public through Wicked Tuna.

We may not have been eating bluefin tuna for lunch but our lobster roll and fish and chips were amazing and no doubt fresh from the ocean.  When you can watch fishermen cleaning their morning catch right at the dock below your table, you can be sure you're eating the best (and freshest fish available).  That's what eating seafood is like along the coast, not just at Blue Collar Lobster, but at every restaurant and fish shack.  It doesn't get any fresher than this.

Thanks for stopping by. And thanks Captain Dave Marciano and crew for a great Gloucester memory. Stay tuned for more posts from our Rockport getaway!

The episode featuring this particular catch was aired on March 27, 2022 - Season 11, Episode 5.  

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