'Wicked Tuna' Star Nicholas 'Duffy' Fudge's Possible Cause of Death Revealed by Colleagues

Wicked Tuna star Nicholas "Duffy" Fudge might have died from decompression sickness, his colleagues told a New Hampshire Union Leader reporter.

Greenland, New Hampshire police are still investigating the 28-year-old's sudden death on July 19, and no official cause of death has been revealed. However, local fisherman told the Union Leader's Kimberly Haas that he might have suffered from decompression sickness, a condition also known as "the bends."

On Monday, the National Geographic Channel and Wicked Tuna producer Pilgrim Studios announced Fudge's death, sending his family and friends condolences.

"Duffy was the first mate on Captain Tyler McLaughlin's fishing vessel, Pinwheel. We join his family and friends in mourning his untimely loss," the network and studio said in a Twitter statement. The network also aired a moment of silence in Fudge's honor during Sunday's episode.

"His passions were fishing and the outdoors. As a child, Nick began tuna fishing with his father and grandfather," Fudge's obituary reads. "After becoming one of the top sport fishermen in the country, he earned a place on the National Geographic reality show Wicked Tuna for multiple seasons. Nick also treasured the environment and he took seriously his responsibility to protect it."

According to EMedicineHealth.com, decompression sickness is commonly associated with diving. It is "caused by the formation of bubbles of gas that occur with changes in pressure during scuba diving." While scuba diving, the pressure of nitrogen in a driver's tank increases as he or she continues descending into the water. As the pressure increases, nitrogen dissolves and it can build up in the body since nitrogen gas is not used by the body.

"The underlying cause of symptoms throughout the body is due mainly to nitrogen bubbles being released when the diver returns to sea level and blocking blood flow and disrupting blood vessels and nerves by stretching or tearing them," EMedicindeHealth.com reads. "They may also cause emboli, blood coagulation and the release of vasoactive compounds."

Some of the symptoms of the condition include fatigue, rashes, itching, pulmonary or lung decompression sickness, Neurological Decompression Sickness and swollen lymph glands. Another symptom is known as "staggers," when a person with decompression sickness experiences a spinning sensation, ringing in the ears or vomiting.

The Bends are usually treated in a hyperbaric recompression chamber.

Fudge was one of the stars on NatGeo's long-running Wicked Tuna, which launched in April 2012 and is set in Massachusetts. The show's seventh season debuted in March and ended in June. In 2014, the network launched a spin-off, Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks, which is set in North Carolina.


Fudge is survived by his parents, his brother Cody, a girlfriend, his paternal grandfather and maternal grandparents.

Photo Credit: National Geographic Channel