Remembering Captain Jim

I was saddened to read on the Tuna Guys Facebook Page:

long time burner, Captain Jim Peterson of Tuna Guys is lost at sea. On 12/12 his boat capsized. The 2 other deck hands were rescued and they will be OK. The search for Capt. Jim has been suspended by the Coast Guard. A memorial fund has been established to help his family. Those of you who wish to donate can do so here.

Captain Jim


Few people embodied the Burning Man spirit to me like Captain Jim & The Tuna Guys. I met him my first year on the playa (1998) and have made a point to connect every year since. The only meat I’ve eaten since going vegetarian was tuna caught by Jim & his crew. I am grateful to have been so blessed by his gifts and spirit.

I recorded a tribute to Jim during  my weekly podcast.




Recorded live during Hug Nation, Dec. 13, 2011.
**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn


Halcyon is a 21-year Burning Man participant and co-founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site & his "Love On Demand" video podcast Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and coaches people how to be radically self expressed in the default world. You can find his full Playa Tips & Tricks series at

15 Comments on “Remembering Captain Jim

  • Verbal says:

    <3 To our captain.

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  • Luvbugg says:

    Thank you Captain for welcoming me into the Tuna Guys family

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  • danny says:

    Thank You! you’ve been there! Love You Cap’n <3

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  • Amber says:

    Thank you for this tribute to Jim. Hearts ache across the world for him, but we all carry a piece of him with us. RIP Captain. We love you.

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  • G says:

    My first burn, 2003 the 2nd or 3rd day, I met Jim sprinkling water on a road. Having never seen this being done I walked up & asked what he was was doing. It was Jim, and he told me about his camp, and to drop by the next day at a certain time to be served some tuna. Of course I did. When I got there, about 30 people were all standing around waiting to be fed. After about a minute at the end of the line, I remembered the the part about participation from the printed materials that came with the ticket. I got out of line and went to the tables and asked for Jim. He came out, and I said “hi I am here to help” He gave me rubber gloves, and put me to work. It was then and there that I learned the best greeting at Burning Man is not “Hi how are you?”, it is “Hi, do you need any help?”
    Last time I saw him was a few burns back. He was proud of a newspaper writeup he had laminated, describing how his boat’s tranny got stuck in reverse and he backed up the boat many many miles to get back to shore. There is a lovely blue and orange tuna guys t-shirt in my closet that is now more treasured and sentimental than it was a few days ago.

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  • Bob says:

    Damm. I never met the man but last year was my first year. I was lucky enough to visit his camp and me and my girlfriend loved the tuna. We had no idea that it was caught by him and his crew. Thats why it was so good. I hope he rest in peace and I hope everyone close to him is alright. I know his sprit will be felt more then ever next year at burning man…

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  • Deena & Gary Beaman says:

    We have never been to Burning Man but have heard about it from friends and family. Jim’s sister Joyce is our sister by marriage and love.
    We met Jim and Betty, and I think a crew member, about 10 years ago. We were on a trip through Oregon and they had us to their place for a couple days. Letting us park our RV in their front drive.
    Joyce, her son David and his family were there. It was a happy group. The kids were just as hospitital as the grown-ups, joking and sharing their lives with all of us. And Jim and Betty were super, open and sharing what they had with all of us.
    The second day we were there one of Jim’s friends took us all out to go mushroom hunting and we came back with quite a load including many chanterelles.
    We all pitched in cleaning and slicing and had a feast of mushrooms and tuna. A wonderful memory of food, family and sharing. I will always remember those days as some of the best days, they were well spent.
    We will miss you Jim. I know that you are in heaven watching us as we go through our memories and I can feel your smile. Thank you for being a part of our lives. Deena & Gary Beaman

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  • Shaman says:

    I am greatly saddened to hear this news. The Tuna Guys are one of the ultimate expressions of pure gifting for no good reason. Like Halcyon, I often speak of them when talking about what Burning Man really is to those who have not attended. I was lucky enough to find them in 2003 and 2004.

    Thank you Captain Jim. Clear skies and Safe travels. May you always find good fishing. Namaste.

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  • Javier Espana says:

    Great expression of love! Feed the masses with fish. Thank you Capt’n Jim! Happy trails!

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  • Felix says:

    Ahoy Captain Jim

    Sad to hear about your un-timely salty departure to your next level of being.

    Where every your soul is…. deep in the sea you loved, deep in the playa you loved…or both…

    Many Many Blessing and endless gratitude for all you shared…
    Your gift of joy,fresh fish, many meals /music/community and playa love was greatly appreciated as some of my fondest memories and most cherished moments at Burning Man…

    Now you are on the Playa Eternal…..”Burnin” in perfect communion / community.

    You will be greatly missed… and greatly remembered.


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  • Bleurose says:

    I was also saddened to hear about Jim. In ’09, the only year I attended Burning Man totally by myself, I was invited by a friend to come over to have some tuna. I decided to make deviled eggs as a gift offering and when I got to Tuna Camp, much as G mentioned, people were waiting to be fed (it seems like there were always people waiting to be fed!) so I started offering deviled eggs to the crowd (I explained that they were sort of like white and yellow tuna… but not really :-). I walked up to this guy who was sitting in a chair and offered him a couple and he told me that was the nicest thing that had happened to him that day and we started talking. Little did I know that it was Cap’n Jim. I mentioned to him that it looked like they needed help and he told me to do whatever I thought would work best so I just jumped in and started cutting vegetables for the grill (yeah, it wasn’t always tuna!) By the end of that day, I was fast friends with a crowd of T.G. people and it was one of the best times I ever had on the playa. Cap’n, we all salute you!

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  • Ranger Hooper says:

    RIP Cap’n Jim and much love to the Tuna Guy family. I stayed on playa ’til Monday night this year and was happy I did. Finally found the TG camp that afternoon (they were only a few streets from my camp) and once again enjoyed a wonderful few hours of community, conversation, and of course, delicious, lovingly prepared fish. Sincerely hope I’ll see many of you in BRC once again. You guys embody the spirit of Burning Man for me and many others.

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