What is “Bering Sea Gold”?
“Bering Sea Gold” – known as “Gold Divers” in the UK – is a Discovery Channel reality show that first aired in January 2012, and now boasts 13 seasons. The series is filmed in Alaska, and follows gold miners during the spring and summer dredging seasons, that air in fall and spring respectively.
The crew members travel by boats which come equipped with a dredge, a sluicing apparatus, and a life support system for cold-water diving. A lack of underwater visibility along with bad weather, malfunctioning equipment, and issues in getting fuel delivered, are just some of the many obstacles they must overcome to earn a living.
A great many of the cast members are present during the spring and summer dredging seasons alike. Shelters over ice holes provide temporary housing during the spring seasons, with unfavorable weather conditions being the biggest problem faced by the tough men and women on the show. The show was narrated by its executive producer Thom Beers during seasons one and two, whereas Mike Rowe has been narrating from season three.
Cast Members: The Pomrekes
The Pomreke crew are the stars of “Bering Sea Gold”, alongside the Kelly and Riedel families. Shawn Pomreke and Emily Riedel both joined in season one and have appeared in almost every episode ever since; Shawn is the captain and co-owner of the Christine Rose, whereas Emily is a deckhand on The Clark. Shawn and his crew participate in the spring ice dredging season with a dredge named Shamrock.
Shawn’s knack for getting into trouble has done little to hamper his successful reality TV career. Over the years he’s been arrested several times and is a repeat DUI offender who also got into trouble for driving without his court-assigned car breathalyzer. Shawn has kept his nose clean since 2013, but even so, those close to him – including his father, Steve – wonder if he’s up to the task of running the family gold dredging business.
Steve and Catherine Pomreke welcomed Shawn in March 1975, and raised him alongside his siblings Erick and Nikki. When Shaun was 11 years old in 1986, the family relocated to Alaska so Steve could work as a mechanic, leaving their old life in Minnesota behind. Three years later, Steve focused on a more lucrative career as a gold miner, and began teaching Shawn everything he knows. Shawn worked diligently alongside his father while attending Beltz High School.
These days, Shawn runs his gold dredging operations through Pomreke Mining LLC. He and Steve – who also appears in the show as a veteran and highly-respected gold miner – run a tight ship on the Christine Rose, but have wildly different approaches as to how things should be run, which causes the occasional clash. At first Steve was doubtful of his son’s abilities to handle operations on the Christine Rose, but Shawn has gone the extra mile to prove naysayers wrong and is even nicknamed “Mr. Gold”.
Dylan and Emily Pomreke are Shawn’s two eldest children. Their mother, the Alaskan native Jeanette Koelsch, was married to Shawn for years, and is currently working as a superintendent at Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. She began working as a park ranger at the national preserve after graduating from college. Jeanette is also involved in the community and does plenty of charity and fundraising work.
Shawn and Jeanette divorced before “Bering Sea Gold” premiered, but it’s believed that they had an amicable divorce, and he rarely mentions her on the show. His second ex-wife, Jenny Schield, was introduced to viewers in season one during happier times. Shawn and Jenny married and welcomed his third child, named Luke, but soon divorced for unknown reasons. Currently, Shawn is dating Monica Gomez, a beautiful brunette who appears in plenty of his Instagram snaps; the pair has yet to announce any marriage plans.
As for the family patriarch, Steve was born in August 1952, and raised on a dairy farm in Minnesota, where he worked hard to become a stellar mechanic, and was even nicknamed “Repair Steve”. Before opening a repair shop, he worked as a diesel mechanic, and when the Pomrekes relocated to Alaska in 1986, Steve oversaw the reparation of mining machinery every day for four years, with practically no time off.
So why did Steve decide to become a gold miner? Dan Walsh, a good friend of the family, asked him for lessons in fixing machinery, in exchange for learning how to mine. Using borrowed equipment and with plenty of help from Dan, Steve travelled to Anvil Creek, where he mined 23 ounces of gold in under two weeks. Two years later, he decided to make gold mining his day job, and opened his first pit mine.
During winter, when gold mining is made impossible by the weather and subzero temperatures, Steve toiled away in real estate. In the early 2000s, he returned to Anvil Creek after mining in Triple Creek for over a decade, but lost almost half a million dollars over the following three years. Despite facing economic ruin, Steve took another gamble, and purchased the Christine Rose before going on his first voyage with Shawn, where they mined 2,000 ounces of gold, and turned an enormous profit.
Although Steve has led a quieter life than his son, he was also unlucky in love during his first marriage. He divorced Catherine sometime in the early 1990s, and married the native Alaskan, Christine Skiba, in 1999. Christine appears to have no interest in a TV career or gold mining, and has yet to be seen on “Bering Sea Gold”.
Cast Members: The Riedels
Emily Riedel is a tenacious third-generation Alaskan, born in July 1988. She is acknowledged as the first woman to gold dredge in the Bering Sea, and considered a pioneer as a woman establishing a name for herself in the male-dominated industry. During Emily’s high school days, her mother moved to North Carolina and, aware of her daughter’s love for singing, asked if she’d considered studying at University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA).
Emily had never studied music theory, sight reading, or other music-related topics, but filled in the gaps in her knowledge with a summer crash course, and auditioned for the prestigious institute’s vocal performance program. Despite overcoming the first hurdle and being accepted, the Alaskan was intimidated by her new classmates and the tightly-controlled academic environment. The first year was full of challenges, but Emily strove to improve and learn as a student.
With help from faculty members in the School of Music and Division of Liberal Arts, Emily graduated after four years with a degree in vocal performance studies. Her next plans were travelling to Germany or Austria to work on her language and singing skills – but money, or lack of it, hindered her ambitions. Her childhood friend, Zeke Tenhoff, offered her the chance to save money by working with him in Nome, Alaska.
That very same summer, a Discovery Channel research team travelled to Nome, seeking cast members for a new show about gold dredging. The team’s attention was instantly caught by Emily’s story, given that she was practically the only woman there, and asked if she’d be interested in signing up for “Bering Sea Gold”. Obviously, Emily said yes; it remains uncertain if her decision was intended to be long- or short-term, but eventually she focused on gold mining full-time, and put aside her thoughts of a singing career, despite doing the occasional side gig.
That’s how viewers came to know Emily as a deckhand on her friend Zeke’s boat, The Clark. Emily’s father Steve, and Zeke’s best friend John, were the boat’s divers; the closeness of the crew members made for some awkward situations when tensions reached boiling point, and things were made more complicated by Emily and Zeke’s past relationship which hadn’t worked out.
In the show’s third season, Emily climbed up the ranks from deckhand to owner of The Eroica. Her three divers left halfway through filming when she was absent from work for two weeks for unexplained reasons, effectively ruining her gold dredging season that year. It took her a long time to regain her workers’ respect and clean-up her reputation, but as of 2022, Emily remains the best-known female in her industry.
In March 2022, Emily and her husband Alex welcomed their first child, named Evelyn Isobel Trokey, affectionately nicknamed “Evie”, “Evie Bell”, or “Baby Bear”, and weighing just 8lbs 8oz, about 4kgs. Emily and Alex have been settling into their new lifestyle as first-time parents, but she is believed to still be working on The Eroica.
Cast Members: The Kelly Family
The Kelly family are some of the most controversial crew members of “Bering Sea Gold”. In July 2022, Brad Kelly assaulted the mother of one of his sons, and was sentenced to prison time after being arrested on domestic violence charges. According to hospital staff, Brad’s victim suffered life-threatening head injuries.News outlets began reporting that the woman, who fell asleep after a heated argument with Brad, awoke and found her ex-partner standing over her in a pool of her own blood. Once police arrived, Brad claimed that his victim had hit her head on the table after falling over, but his story didn’t convince the officers, who arrested him and charged him with second-degree assault domestic violence.
After pleading guilty to felony assault, the rest of Brad’s charges were dropped by prosecutors. He was hit with a four-year prison sentence, with three years suspended. The TV star’s legal team were confident that Brad could be released after just eight months, as long as he kept on the straight and narrow. Upon release, Brad would spend five years on probation.
Nobody could’ve imagined that the Kelly family would be hit with such a scandal when they joined the show in its second season. Brad was a diver, who worked alongside his sons Kris and Andy. His ex-wife Wendy, made cameos on the show, but wasn’t on good terms with her former spouse after their break-up: in fact, the duo has been warring for decades, with things becoming so bad that she moved away from Nome altogether, and has made a new life for herself in an undisclosed location. News outlets didn’t confirm if Wendy was Brad’s victim on the night of his arrest.
— Reaper Dredging (@ReaperDredging) February 13, 2015
The effect on Brad’s sons, however, is evident. Andy has fought his father several times, whereas Kris has broken down during filming on more than one occasion. In fact, the situation was so extreme at times that viewers thought the feuding Kelly family were exaggerating for the show.
The Kelly family are originally from Hawaii, but decided to try their luck as gold miners in cold Alaska. They worked with Steve Riedel, but the partnership didn’t last long or end on good terms, before purchasing their own suction dredge. Kris is the most determined of the family despite their numerous setbacks, and is always thinking up new plans to get back on track. Some of the problems they’ve faced include being shot at, having gear stolen, and their equipment set on fire, but Kris inevitably pushes on for the sake of his young daughter Christine Jade.
We know that Kris purchased a new dredge in January 2022, but his brother Andy is far quieter regarding his future plans. The family’s official merchandise company, Reaper Dredging Co., has been inactive on social media since 2015, and Kris himself hasn’t posted on Instagram since July 2022.
Very little is known about the mysterious Kelly brothers, especially since the incarceration of their father. It remains to be seen whether they will return to “Bering Sea Gold”, or step away from TV altogether following the patriarch’s scandalous arrest. With that said, we’re sure they’re not hurting for money, as Brad is reportedly worth over $2 million, and earns $65,000 per episode, meaning that his sons could also be well on their way to having seven-figure fortunes.