What Happened to Duffy on ‘Wicked Tuna’? Learn More About His Sudden Death

Gabrielle Bernardini - Author

Mar. 28 2021, Updated 11:49 a.m. ET

Duffy from 'Wicked Tuna'
Source: National Geographic

Season 10 of Wicked Tuna has kicked off, but fans of the National Geographic Channel series have been left wondering: What happened to Duffy? Let's take a closer look at the circumstances surrounding his sudden death.

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What happened to Duffy on 'Wicked Tuna'?

Nicholas Fudge, aka Duffy, died suddenly in July 2018 at the age of 28. Though New Hampshire police did not make his cause of death open to the public, a local fisherman told the New Hampshire Union Leader that he “may have been a victim of decompression sickness, also known as 'the bends.'"

duffy wicked tuna death
Source: National Geographic
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According to Diversalertnetwork.org, decompression sickness "is the result of inadequate decompression following exposure to increased pressure."

“During a dive, the body tissues absorb nitrogen from the breathing gas in proportion to the surrounding pressure. As long as the diver remains at pressure, the gas presents no problem. If the pressure is reduced too quickly, however, the nitrogen comes out of solution and forms bubbles in the tissues and bloodstream,” the site reads.

A few symptoms associated with DCS is fatigue, numbness, dizziness, joint pain, and shortness of breath. Other signs of the disease include tremors, blotchy rash, muscle weakness, and coughing up blood. 

Duffy worked alongside his good friend Tyler McLaughlin on his boat the Pinwheel. According to his obituary, the 28-year-old found his passion for tuna fishing as a child. 

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“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," the tribute read. "Nick also treasured the environment and he took seriously his responsibility to protect it."

Who replaced Duffy as Captain Tyler McLaughlin's first mate?

who replaced duffy wicked tuna
Source: Instagram
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Since the passing of Duffy a few days prior to filming Season 8, Captain Tyler McLaughlin decided to continue on with the show without his first mate and best friend.

Tyler decided that his sister Marissa would take the position as first mate as she has her captain’s license and is more than qualified. "I'm afraid I might burn out this season, so I'm relying on Marissa to be a solid first mate," Tyler said in the National Geographic clip. "She's got a lot to learn, but she's got her captain's license. She can navigate. She can read a radar. 

She knows how to drive the boat. She can run it when we're fighting fish. I mean, she's more than qualified."

Season 8 acknowledged the passing Tyler’s best friend, and the fisherman even dedicated his first catch of the season to his late BFF.

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Source: Twitter

"We just persevered. We just caught a fish on the spot where Duffy and I caught our last fish together," Tyler said. "I don't care if we get $2 a pound, $25 or $30 a pound. I'm just so happy to have this fish. It means so much to us."

Following the episode, the National Geographic channel aired the best moments of Duffy and Tyler throughout the series.

Catch new episodes of Wicked Tuna on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on the National Geographic Channel. 

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