The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 198: Deadliest Catch Crabtastic Special

Premier Date: May 8, 2013

All of the myths in this episode are related to Deadliest Catch, a television show about crab fishing in the Bering Sea.

A fisherman will be pulled to the bottom of the ocean if he is caught in the coiled rope when a crab pot is deployed.


With the help of Deadliest Catch captains Johnathan Hillstrand and Scott “Junior” Campbell, Jamie and Adam set out to test this myth. A scale model experiment showed that normal (spring) coiling did not consistently pull someone off the boat, but over-under coiling did. However, for the full-scale test, a regular coil was used because it is more common in real life. In the first series of tests, with Buster standing away from the boat’s railing or leaning on the railing, the rope consistently caught his leg but did not pull him over. In a final test, with Buster looking over the railing, he went overboard and was dragged along with the pot to the bottom of the bay. This myth was deemed plausible because the rope would consistently grab the fisherman’s leg but it would not consistently pull him overboard.

Working a 30-hour shift with 20-minute naps every six hours results in double the performance of not getting any sleep.


On an anchored ship, the Build Team set up a crab-fishing themed obstacle course to test their mental and physical abilities. Kari and Tory both completed the course with perfect scores when well-rested. Attempting the course after being awake 30 straight hours resulted in dramatically lower scores. When they later added the brief naps to their 30 hours of wakefulness, they both achieved more than double the score compared to their scores without any naps.

The 800 lbs (360 kg) crab pots used on Deadliest Catch are indestructible.


The fishermen claimed that one of their pots would survive a 3 lbs (1.4 kg) C-4 blast without any damage to its steel structure. After a test with the C-4 in the middle of the pot, only the webbing was damaged so they appeared to be correct. However, after the Build Team strategically placed the explosives below the steel struts, the pot was heavily damaged.