'Bering Sea Gold' Captain Emily Reidel Had 'Never Seen Anything Like' Wildly Unpredictable Season (Exclusive)

Even a decade mining for gold on the Bering Sea couldn't have prepared Eroica captain Emily Reidel for this unprecedented season of Bering Sea Gold. Ahead of Friday's season premiere of the hit Discovery series, Reidel opened up to PopCulture.com about how a freakish heat wave set her plans for the year on end, pitting her against the dangerous weather of the wild northwest.

Launching her boat first to take advantage of the calmer spring weather, Reidel was "more than a little bit smug" to get an early start on her fellow miners: "The longer you're here, the longer you realize how important every decision is," she explains. That head start would save her season, as the miners were hit by "brutal" weather that risked not only their gold haul, but their lives.

"I've never seen anything like it," Reidel recalls. "The Bering Sea is kind of unique in that, when weather happens, it escalates really quickly. ...It's always these really difficult decisions [as a captain]. When you’re right, you're right. But when you're wrong, you lose a lot of money."

With the weather stirring sediment on the bottom of the sea, making diving a blind endeavor and proving tried and true honey pots inaccessible, the Eroica wasn't able to do much prospecting this year, which Reidel notes is "the heart and soul of gold mining." Instead, the crew had to be ready to pivot at a moment's notice. "I think that bottom line is all that matters in this case, where we just have to constantly adjust and revise our strategy," she told PopCulture. "It's my bottom line to make sure my crew succeeds."

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It's that pressure to make money, plus the inherent isolation of Nome, Alaska, and the addition of a greenhorn crew member that caused more than a little tension on board. "I think things at times were tense, because ultimately everyone was there to make money. ...When all your hard work isn’t manifested into gold, it can start to break you down mentally."

Will the crew of the Eroica be able to walk away from this season with their fortune and their lives? Bering Sea Gold returns to Discovery for an all-new season on Friday, May 15 at 8 p.m. ET. For more from PopCulture on all the Discovery Channel's latest shows, click here.