Phil Harris, the fishing boat captain whose adventures off the Alaska coast were captured on the television show "Deadliest Catch," has died, the Discovery Channel said Tuesday night. He was 53.
Harris suffered what his family described as a massive stroke on Jan. 29 while the fishing vessel he captained, Cornelia Marie, was in port at St. Paul Island. The fisherman was flown to Anchorage for surgery.
The reality show, which has filmed five seasons, has been one of the Discovery Channel's most popular and depicts the crab fishing industry in the dangerous waters off Alaska.
"It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dad -- Captain Phil Harris. Dad has always been a fighter and continued to be until the end," sons Josh and Jake Harris said in a statement released by the network. "For us and the crew, he was someone who never backed down."
Harris had seemed to be improving, and in a posting last Saturday on the boat's Web site, he was described as "talking to friends and family today; showing his greatest progress" since the stroke.
According to the vessel's Web site, Harris started working on fishing boats at age 7 and started work 10 years later on a crab boat. When Harris turned 21, he ran a fishing vessel out of Seattle, making him one of the youngest to captain a vessel in the Bering Sea.