Underwater miners off Nome, Alaska, get a reality show

Reality show producers, who have made shows about ice road trucking and underground coal mining in Virginia, have now turned their lens on underwater gold miners that work the waters off Nome, Alaska.

Bering Sea Gold is running on the Discovery Channel and is premiering today.

Small crews operate make-shift floating barges that dredge placer gold. The show highlights the challenges the private owners face, improvising equipment and the boom and bust of the daily gold hunt.

The Washington Post gives the new reality show a thumbs up:

“Bering Sea Gold,” like its Discovery forebears, does a great job of conveying the angst, financial risk, suffering and physical demands of this annual dredge. The gold-hunting season, which is short already, can be curtailed by bad weather and rising swells. And, as with the network’s “Gold Rush Alaska,” “Bering Sea Gold” features a maddening litany of mechanical breakdowns and human ineptitude.

On a converted, ramshackle catamaran called the Wild Ranger, a bellicose captain-for-hire named Scott Meisterheim positions himself as the show’s alpha male, until reality (or some edited form of it) intervenes. The more he rages at the broken-down boat and his gleefully contrarian shipmates, the less gold his crew finds. It’s almost comically satisfying to watch them return to harbor each day with barely enough gold to dust Wolfgang Puck’s latest a la mode. Meisterheim keeps reminding the camera that he has to strike it rich or else he’ll go to jail for not paying his child support. And whose fault is that, sir? It’s not like the ocean owes you its nuggets.

Read more here.