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How Fake is Wicked Tuna

How Fake is Wicked Tuna

Wicked Tuna is a popular reality TV show that follows commercial tuna fishermen in Gloucester, Massachusetts as they hunt for the valuable bluefin tuna. The show, which airs on the National Geographic Channel, is known for its exciting footage of crews battling massive tunas.

But over the years many viewers have questioned just how real Wicked Tuna actually is. Reality shows are often accused of fakery through manipulative editing and staged situations. So does Wicked Tuna cross the line between reality and fiction?

Background on Wicked Tuna

Wicked Tuna premiered on National Geographic in 2012 and is currently airing its 11th season. The show follows several fishing boat crews operating out of Gloucester as they hunt bluefin tuna in the North Atlantic.

Bluefin tuna can weigh over 1,000 pounds and are worth up to tens of thousands of dollars. Wicked Tuna dramatizes the crews’ rivalries as they compete to catch the most fish each season.

Signs Wicked Tuna is Real

While Wicked Tuna takes some creative liberties, there are indications the show depicts the realities of commercial tuna fishing:

  • The cast are real fishermen – The boats and crew members seen on Wicked Tuna are actual working commercial fishermen based in Gloucester. They rely on catching tuna to make a living.
  • Actual fishing is shown – Footage of the crews catching, fighting, and hauling in giant tuna appears to be real. The show often focuses on these fishing scenes.
  • Hardships of the job highlighted – Wicked Tuna does capture the financial pressures, long hours, and physical dangers of commercial tuna fishing.
  • Captains vouch for accuracy – Some boat captains like Dave Marciano have said Wicked Tuna accurately shows the tough nature of their work.

Signs Wicked Tuna is Exaggerated or Fake

However, Wicked Tuna does take liberties with editing and dramatizing events:

  • Fishing action condensed – The show condenses many hours or days of mundane fishing into exciting highlights. Most of the job involves waiting for bites.
  • Key details changed – Scenes are edited and re-ordered out of sequence. For example, a boat shown leaving the dock may have actually left hours earlier.
  • Rivalries exaggerated – The show plays up conflict between crews that may not hate each other as much as it appears. Creative editing heightens drama.

-“Reality TV” tricks – Producers use techniques like emotional music, reaction shots, and misleading narration to manufacture drama and suspense.

  • Staged or recreated scenes – Some moments like dockside confrontations may be planned out or re-shot if cameras missed the original event.
Signs Wicked Tuna is RealSigns Wicked Tuna is Exaggerated or Fake
Actual fishermen as castFishing action condensed
Real fishing shownKey details changed
Hardships highlightedRivalries exaggerated
Captains vouch for accuracy“Reality TV” tricks used
Staged or recreated scenes


While Wicked Tuna takes liberties with editing and dramatization, it does stay closer to reality than many other “reality shows.” The fishing action and the lives of the tuna crews are depicted fairly truthfully if condensed and sensationalized for television.

Viewers should think of Wicked Tuna more as a fictionalized version of real-life tuna fishing than an ultra-realistic documentary. The show ultimately succeeds by striking a balance between reality and entertainment.

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Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

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