'Wicked Tuna' Star Nicholas 'Duffy' Fudge's Death: What to Know

The eighth season of Wicked Tuna kicks off on National Geographic Channel Sunday night and will cover the death of Nicholas "Duffy" Fudge, whose sudden death at age 28 in July 2018 shocked fans.

Fudge died on July 19. Greenland, New Hampshire police did not make a cause of death public, but local fisherman told the New Hampshire Union Leader he might have suffered from decompression sickness, also known as "the bends."

According to EMedicineHealth.com, decompression sickness is often associated with scuba diving. It is "caused by the formation of bubbles of gas that occur with changes in pressure during scuba diving." When a diver uses nitrogen or gas in their air tank, the pressure increases as the diver descends. The gases dissolve in the tissues, and the longer the diver remains underwater, the more nitrogen dissolves. Since nitrogen gas is not used by the body, unlike oxygen, it builds up.

"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," the site reads. "They may also cause emboli, blood coagulation and the release of vasoactive compounds."

Some of the symptoms include fatigue, rashes, itching, pulmonary or long compression sickness, Neurological Decompression Sickness and swollen lymph glands.

Five months before his death, Fudge was arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The case was still under investigation at the time of his death.

After Fudge's death, National Geographic and series producer Pilgrim Studios sent their condolences to his family.

"[Nat Geo] and [Pilgrim Studios] were saddened to learn that Wicked Tuna cast member Nicholas 'Duffy' Fudge passed away this week," the network said on Twitter. "Duffy was the first mate on Captain Tyler McLaughlin’s fishing vessel, Pinwheel. We join his family and friends in mourning his untimely loss."

According to Fudge's obituary, he was born in Topsfield, Massachusetts and lived in Greenland, New Hampshire. He was a graduate of Portsmouth High School in New Hampshire.

"He excelled in any sport he played, and among his favorites were fishing, hockey, lacrosse, skiing, snowboarding, and surfing," his family wrote, adding that he was passionate about outdoor activities.

"As a child, Nick began tuna fishing with his father and grandfather," the 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."

Fudge is survived by his parents, his brother Cody, his girlfriend, his paternal grandfather, his maternal grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins. His family established the Nicholas “Duffy” Fudge Memorial Fund for environmental preservation in his memory.

Fudge was first mate on Captain Tyler McLaughlin's boat. McLaughlin joined Wicked Tuna in the show's second season.

Fudge was not the only death in the Wicked Tuna family before Sunday's premiere. In December, William "Willbilly" Hathaway was killed in a car crash in Salisbury, Maryland. He was 36 years old and is survived by his wife and infant daughter.


Wicked Tuna airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.

Photo credit: National Geographic