Review: Discovery Channel’s TREASURE QUEST: SNAKE ISLAND


There’s a disturbing scene in the new treasure hunt series from Discovery Channel. And it’s not about a shark attack or a snake attack. It’s during a meeting with the crew and the expedition leader, Cork Graham, is making a case for going to Snake Island to find a buried treasure of Incan gold. The island is crazy dangerous for many reasons. As final proof that they’re on the right track, Graham takes an overlay from a legendary map said to hold the treasure and places it directly over a map of modern day Snake Island, off the south eastern coast of Brazil. He keeps it there for all to see. But it’s not a match. It’s sort of a match. But not quite. And that symbolizes the leap of faith everyone is taking.

Herpetologist Bryan Fry and the Golden Lancehead pit viper.

Herpetologist Bryan Fry and the Golden Lancehead pit viper.

But it was never just about the gold, was it? No, it was never that simple. Look, we can go down the line. Take Graham, he’s as much in it to prove a youthful hunch from years ago. Then there’s ole Cappy, the boat captain. He’s in it for the glory. Mehgan, the expedition dive master, seems most interested with the historical significance of what they may find. Jeremy, the ship’s mechanic, seems most into the adventure and then with the possible big payday. And Bryan, the ship’s herpetologist, or snake expert, is in it for the snakes! Yeah, he is most eager to match wits with the legendary and dangerous golden lancehead pit viper. Sounds like a crew out of the pages of “Moby Dick” or “Jaws.” Surely, this is a cut above your typical reality TV show.


The more details you get about this expedition, the more of a mystery it becomes. So, yeah, maybe there is hidden Incan gold somewhere on Snake Island. Maybe all the theories add up. But, even if they did, how will this modern day crew do better than other missions going back hundreds of years? To add to the challenge, as the show makes clear, our crew may be made up of seasoned professionals but they’re also pretty much fish out of water. And, to their dismay and possible horror, they weren’t counting on modern day pirates. They thought about them in theory. But no so much in reality. And they’re very real. All in all, this is a story that should keep you hooked to the very end.

The six part series premieres on Friday, July 17 at 10 PM ET/PT on the Discovery Channel. For more details, visit our friends at Discovery right here.


Filed under Discovery Channel, Reality TV, Television

77 responses to “Review: Discovery Channel’s TREASURE QUEST: SNAKE ISLAND

  1. This sounds from your description like a ridiculous project, but what the heck, maybe the documentary-makers have planted some gold nuggets so the finale will look like something’s accomplished.

  2. Looks like a must watch.. Intrigued.

  3. Glad you liked the show. Keep watching, the action and adventure get more and more intense. Culminating with a fracture in my back ….. again. I won’t give details on how this occurs other than to say it is spectacular. I spent 2 months in a back brace after the shoot. At least this was better than the truly catastrophic broken back I suffered in 2010 where I spent 4 months in the hospital!

    If you want to learn more about the science of Queimada Grande and the golden lanceheads, here is a blog post I wrote 🙂

    • Thanks, Bryan! Really appreciate your comment.

    • Francine Belanger

      I was wondering if you wrote anything about your experience filming this show. I just finished your autobiography and was hoping you would write something about it near the end but I guess the book was published before you left. Francine, Quebec, Canada

    • Francine Belanger

      I did I read your blog but I was hoping to also get information about which aspects of the show were staged and which were not, and what your relationship was with the team members, Dean Ripa wrote an article about his experience with Animal Planet which was not a positive one. I was wondering if you experienced anything like that work on this show and if you are pleased with the finished product, more specifically the editing.


      • I appreciate your comments, Francine. I was not directly involved with the show. I too am curious to learn more about the show. I am wondering if the show actually took place on Snake Island to begin with as the Brazilian government has barred anyone from setting foot on it.

      • Francine Belanger

        For some reason, I thought I was writing to Bryan Fry. I ‘m sorry about that Henry. I am a Newbie with this blog.

        Treasure Island was very compelling. I enjoyed it but like most films of this genre, it is extremely manipulative, Scenes are often over dramatized and things are done for shock value. I was wondering if Bryan was aware that this was the kind of film he was involving himself with from the start, if he discovered it the middle of production or if he was surprised (perhaps evens shocked) by the finished product. My guess is that having participated in many other documentaries, he already had some inkling that the editing can result in a film that is very differing from the one anticipated. That it might even veer towards the trashy tabloid format as it sort of did in this case, but that he did it for the opportunity to visit the Island and bring back some specimens of these rare and very cool snakes.. That having been said, I can’t help wondering if he could have found funding for a scientific expedition to the Island. He is after all an accomplished scientist as well as a media personalty.

        I have so many questions I would like to ask him. For instance, the Golden Lancehead is portrayed as one of the most venomous species on the planet when it fact, untreated bites have a fatality rate of about 7 per cent. Granted my sources are poor, but how far off can they be? The snakes are also portrayed as evil looking when they were in fact very docile. Also, Why would Bryan plunge into those rough waters, putting himself and the expedition at risk? Was that scripted? Was anything scripted or recreated? I would be very surprised if they weren’t but at the same time, I wood be surprised if Bryan went along with that sort of thing. I am also wondering what kind of contract he had in regards to the treasure if it were found. Would he and the other team members get a share? Am I being naive here? Did anyone actually thing there could be a treasure on that Island or was that a ploy? Sorry, this is getting a bit winded. Francine

      • Francine, I think all your questions are fair game. In the end, this was an entertaining program. As you say, it leaves you wanting more. A book that digs deep into the making of this program would be a great idea!

  4. Common sense

    This show is 100,000% fake. First of all they are searching in the wrong country. The incas were never in Brazil the correct answer is Ecuador but then again there’s a real treasure hunting group already there with famous treasure hunters and explorers not cast actors (who are authors and “scientists”) .. There is a documentary movie coming out later this year with the real Incan treasure hunters

    • Thanks for your response! I am sure there are a number of theories on the subject. Even if this journey is totally up for debate, the crew takes it. The show is definitely worth watching.

      • Not theories !The documentary is FAKE ! All my friends in Northeast Brazil near Fortaleza have told me.Some saw the fake filming crap !!!! So Henry I guess you like telling lies or spreading rumors ! !!!!! The Mega shark crap and Bush people are fake ! It’s been proved and people are getting sick of Discover channels fake crap!!!!!!! Não teorias! O documentário é falso! Todos os meus amigos no Nordeste do Brasil perto de Fortaleza ter dito me.Some viu o falso porcaria filmagens !!!! Então Henry Eu acho que você como dizer mentiras ou espalhar boatos! !!!!! A Mega porcaria tubarão e Bush pessoas são falsos! Tem sido provado e as pessoas estão ficando doentes de Discover canais falso porcaria !!!!!!!

      • Hey Ricky,
        I welcome your comments. I am viewing the show on different levels and one important one, maybe the only one that really matters, is entertainment. The viewer is not asked to verify or be an expert or even know anything about snakes or treasure. First and foremost, this is an adventure show to be taken in any way a casual viewer chooses to. The good news, Ricky, is that shows like this open doors to further exploration should the viewer choose to go there. Viewers are smart, Ricky, they will consume content as they see fit.

      • Claudia

        That’s right it’s all fake,I’m Brazilian and guarantee that the Brazilian government never could let the American people looking for any kind of treasure here. first you need authorization to go to the island, I know they have it but it’s extremely prohibit do any kind of search after 5:00pm close by the island,my question is if they find the treasure millions dollars in gold how come they going to leave the country with that. By plane,boat,I just wish those troll could go away from my country ,I hate them back to America troll leave the snake island alone.

      • Thanks so much for your comments, Claudia. So, it appears there really is a Snake Island. That’s something.

  5. I have been traveling to Brazil since 2002 .I have been near this island and in the water around it.It has a hell of a lot of snakes.No pirates and never heard of any treasure.You can tell how fake it is from the beginning.When they introduce the ships staff! Discovery channel now is just hiring actors and people that want to be on tv.Most of their shows and documentary’s are now bs .THEY WILL NEVER FIND A TREASURE! A documentary was done a few years ago about this island and it’s snakes but nothing about a treasure !Just ask the locals !!!!What’s sad is how many stupid people believe this crap but then look at who they vote for !!!! AHHHA RSSSSS

  6. Michael 2

    The internet seems to have taught many people to be uncivilized.

    I saw this program tonight and enjoyed it immensely. I am also a certified SCUBA diver (PADI, Open Water Diver) and so for me it is adventure. Real boat, real diving, real places. Maybe no treasure.

  7. Peggy

    I am watching Episode 3 right now. It’s Mega Shark all over again. They claim to find artifacts which are clearly planted by them. Whoever found a 500 year old carving that’s completely clean? Ever see an old tombstone? You can barely make out the inscriptions after 100 years of exposure. An “encrusted” block purported to be part of a block and tackle when taken out of the sea had a couple of seaweeds glued to it and that was that. If it’s made up, say so. We all watch fiction all the time. But a documentary is supposed to be about real people and real events, not fictional events.

    • It makes me what to write something about this bigger issue of documentary-like entertainment. When is a documentary not really a documentary? What have become of our expectations? Infotainment and beyond.

  8. Gary Yeager

    Is it just me or is it kinda strange that they are on an island that no one goes to, but on the way up they are following a clearly defined very wide recently used trail with the grass and weeds beat down to dirt from foot traffic.!!!!

  9. Dirk Winebarger

    I have been watching it, even though I have actual training in Marine Archaeology. Of course there is no science there. It is more like how a grade schooler might imagine an archaeological expedition to be run. Anything they find is instantly connected to the treasure. No questions about whether the object fits the correct time period, or whether it could be related to the 100 year old lighthouse, the banana plantation, or other human activity on the island. I understand that real science makes poor TV drama, but it is silly trying to pretend it is science.

  10. Matthias

    This show is about as real as the Mermaids Fakumentary, Giant Shark Fakumentary, or the Hobbit Fakumentary. Anyone who watches this show and believes it is real should check out the documentary about the paper company Dunder-Miflin called The Office. Discovery doesn’t have any true programming anymore. It is the new scifi channel.

  11. Merci for following 24/7 in France, author of “Solitary Desire-One Woman’s Journey to France” (video & bon weekend!

  12. John Graham

    Items like the Jesuit ring in E04 appear to have been found very close to the surface. On an island such as this with a canopy of trees, lush vegetation, etc. there would be a good deposit of detritus in a 500 year period. Wouldn’t the ring be buried at least a foot deep? If it isn’t then it is more recent and not related to the original treasure. The metal eye hook: it could have come from all the prior hunters who sought it.

    I hear a lot of bellyaching about the heat and the snakes. There are full body snake proof suits available versus some ankle protectors. All these guys do is spend a very short time wandering a well-worn existing foot path and running a metal detector over the ground. Bryan seems of little use since it is the others who find the snakes 99% of the time. Can the camera guy quit showing Mehgan’s backside on every other scene?

    While their is a good start in terms of an initial recon, they should be doing something different than all the other hunters have done such as going off the beaten path, mapping the island totally in terms of faults, caves, water sources, etc. At a minimum, make a relief map of the island and grid it off, systematically checking each of the grids until none are left to search…

    Why not use a power tool to clear some of the brush? Of course there is a risk of snake bites when the thick brush is 8 feet tall and they keep going through it again and again to get back to where they left off.

  13. Stephanie

    This show is interesting but totally fake. I was watching one of the recent episodes and they found a symbol on the island and you could tell that it had been made recently instead of hundreds of years ago as it should if their quest was true. This show is clearly just for entertainment value.

  14. If Discovery Channel is going to just start making scripted fictional adventure movies about hunting treasure guarded by snakes, then just call it a MOVIE. There is no way in hell this show is a ‘documentary’. The Discovery Channel has really ‘jumped the shark’ by airing this mess of a show.

  15. Wes

    I am disappointed by shows like this. However I love fast n loud, street outlaws, moonshiners (my favorite fake or not), deadliest catch, and those kind of shows are ok with me. I am trying to not bash this treasure quest show much but I just see them doing things so wrong that my dumb hick country bumpkin a$$ just can’t ignore. If my redneck butt was treasure hunting on an island i would start off by creating a grid on a map and I would be much more methodical about how I was searching. These guys just seem to be wondering around with a poke and hope method. Also when you google to learn about the possible treasure on this island no information I have found would lead me to believe that this treasure hunt is legit.

    Definition of documentary:
    a movie or a television or radio program that provides a factual record or report.
    synonyms: factual program, factual film ….
    With that said if they are calling this a documentary and the information included in this TV program is not FACT then Discovery channel is teaching us (the viewers who believe this show, probably younger people) things that are incorrect which will lead to the dumping down of humans. I am sorry it just bugs me when we are treated like idiots. I seen a comment that someone had said earlier “the viewers are smart” or something like that .. Anyway I have to disagree with that because I am sure that there are more people who believe this show as an accurate documentary than people who see it for what it really is.

    One of the biggest problems I see is that people continue to allow false advertising/labeling of TV shows, laws, products and it seems that the unimportant or less important issues have tons of support. Its slight of hand trickery.

    It saddens me that the world is headed in the direction it is. Each generation become increasingly lazy, less motivated and more acceptable of ridiculousness. By the way whenever someone asks your race from now on it should be human. We are not black, we are not white, we are not Asian …. We are humans. So please everyone lets move forward in society and lets be the only race in existence. Lets be the HUMAN RACE!!

    • Hey Wes,

      These are excellent comments. You’re smart to see what’s going on but I know what you mean. Take the movie, “Catfish,” that is supposed to be a legitimate documentary but it most certainly is not. You should check it out and you’ll see how contrived it is. I want to be open to a good story and I’m willing to see what others do with turning a documentary on its head. But when they turn around and claim that everything in the documentary is totally true (due to legalities, no doubt) then I draw similar conclusions as you do. What will the next generation do? A movie you’ll want to see is “While We’re Young,” a 2014 comedy-drama written, produced, and directed by Noah Baumbach starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfried. In fact, I should write a DVD review of this one. It lays out all the things you’re talking about. You gotta see it! Went ahead and reviewed it:

  16. Pingback: DVD Review: WHILE WE’RE YOUNG | Comics Grinder

  17. Mike

    People hide treasure so they can go back later and retrieve it. It’s gone. Probably the best they’ll do is find where it was.

    • Very good point, Mike. It seems like that sort of logic got lost somewhere. Just why would you bury a spectacular horde of Incan golden goodies, the “Treasure of the Trinity,” no less, on an especially remote snake-infested island and just leave it all there for the Discovery Channel to find hundreds of years later?

  18. DH

    Watched the whole thing, what a bunch of bullcrap. They tease you with “hey we have something here, its a box” then what do they find? A piece of wood from a box. Then when they are leaving the cave they find a wall with some holes in it which of course must mean the location of other treasure stashes. Give me a break. This is a fake as the one History did about the Dutchmans treasure. And what it is with “Jesuits” hiding gold?? Both shows centered about Jesuits. If there is a season 2 of either show, guess who isnt watching?

    • Yeah, what is it with Jesuits hiding gold?? Hilarious. I think this show is providing a lot of entertainment value so that’s a good thing. But it looks like one season is probably enough unless their next destination is Spider Island.

  19. Chris

    The idea of any kind of treasure show will always be intriguing to viewers at first but it’s very clear that after watching throughout the season that it’s completely set up. Everything from close calls with snakes to finding clues in exact patterns along a well beaten trail. Close calls with snakes never seem to show the snake being within striking range as the camera just shoots scenes of snakes moving and make it seem as if the snake is moving away from the person. And then you just know that when they find that piece of a box at the end that its only going to be just that, a piece of a box. And then when they end the season with finding one last carving of a “map” so that viewers could possibly be excited for another season of this stupid show. If anyone out there actually doesnt have common sense to put two and two together and actually believe this show is real, there’s something wrong with you! Would at least be nice to watch someone actually find treasure. So go and actually find treasure before making a show about it. Find it then act it out and let us viewers finish watching the show happy and not being let down. Go make a show about people in the world who found some sort of valuable treasure. Every episode could be one or two different stories about people who found treasure. Metal detecting on the beach or stumbling upon something valuable. A show like that would be fun to watch. Always something new to watch and viewers would definitely like to watch people success stories about treasure!

    • Hey Chris, I really appreciate your comments and it sounds like you’ve got a great idea for a show. Well, Treasure Quest: Snake Island sure got a lot of people talking. Maybe it will lead to a whole new direction for it or it’s time to move on to other things. Treasure hunting is a very popular theme. Always room to hunt for a whole new treasure.

  20. A wooden piece of a box in a moist cave for hundreds of years? Shouldn’t that wood be rotten by then? 🙂

  21. Norman Smith

    They don’t seem to care if their fakery is obvious. There’s a clear sunny day with waves gently lapping on the shore, but the “dive director” (or whatever) says it’s too dangerous to dive with the storm. Then they cut in a scene with waves and dark skies, trying to hide the actual sky that day. Pathetic.

    • Norman, thanks for your observation. I believe all these comments tell a story. People are fascinated with hunting for treasure and are even willing to overlook some flaws in the hunt. People are also fascinated with the storytelling process: Where is this story going? Do we have an unreliable narrator?

      • Rick Brewer

        I like shows like this fake or not. It brings out the imagination and thrill of finding treasure. Ask yourself, What if that treasure really existed…

      • That’s a good point you make, Rick. As I’ve said, I believe this show has provided a lot of entertainment value.

  22. David

    1) Snake Island
    2) The Curse of Oak Island
    3) Rebel Gold
    These type of shows are starting to suck, big time. Total BS. Fake, Fake, Fake !!

    Even though parts of Dual Survivor are scripted… and they always make it back to civilization… at least you learn some things. Cody actually shows you how to make fire. Dave and Joe teach you some things also.

    The History Channel and the Discovery Channel are starting to get on my nerves with these Fake shows. Now, they got a show coming out leading us to believe that Hitler escaped. I’m pretty sure the Russians got him.

    The History Channel is owned by Disney, so that should tell you something.
    The Discovery Channel is owned by Discover Communications, which is a publicly traded company. So, the shareholders need to be rewarded. Hence, they need to sell advertising. It’s all about generating revenue.

  23. Angela Simmons

    Heard about Snake Island way back when; I love exploring “from my couch”….Always dreamt about going to Easter Island; where the Moai statues though a bit daunting, are far less bizarre than a small island of some 400,000 deadly inhabitants! Need the Pied Piper here! Rats!! The snakes wouldn’t be charmed by him; but at least, maybe they’ll be too busy eating the rats….to eat him😊!!

    I have yet to fathom why any lighthouse keeper would want this job! Or, why anyone in their right mind would want to visit this viper-
    infested isle. But then, man has always ventured where angels fear to tread….

    It is said, “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never tastes of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear; seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”

    Bon voyage!

    • Very interesting. It appears that the Brazilian government forbids entry into Snake Island. I wonder how the crew got around that. Also, those snakes are supposed to be valuable on the black market.

  24. Jason

    I loved how the show pointed out that there is no demand for the snakes, but they sell for a fair bit of money and thus there is no benefit to poaching them.

    1) You can’t sell something for hundreds or thousands of dollars that has no demand. Demand determines price.
    2) Pirates are not idiots. They are not in the habit of capturing or poaching animals they can’t sell for a generous profit. Hence why Pirates are not out there trapping and selling domesticated alley cats.

    moronic show.

  25. Ricky L Jasinski

    I love treasure hunting and the unknown but this show is so fake and staged it’s unbelievable

  26. I can’t imagine Bryan Fry collaborating on a fake show somehow. He is not just a herpetologist. He is a world recognized scientist and who has contributed extensively to our understanding of venomous animals and medical / pharmaceutical applications of venom. If you are reading this Bryan, You rule!
    Francine Belanger
    Quebec, Canada

  27. james Brazwell

    Very disappointed in show!!!

    • The show has definitely generated some very strong reactions. Sounds like people are attracted to the concept, get caught up in the narrative, and then demand more as they question this or that fact. On many levels, the show succeeds, primarily as entertainment.

  28. zarodoscht

    Any show that is scripted and in a pseudo-documentary format should have a disclaimer at the beginning of the show that states that fact. The only reason I started watching it is because I thought it was real. I have no interest in the so-called “entertainment” aspect of being lied to. The 2nd season continues the bs. At least the Oak Island show on History is real, albeit no treasure thus far – but I will take a no treasure pay-off in lieu of some show that attempts to fool people into thinking it is real. Hogwash.

  29. Thank you for stopping by my blog.

  30. I live near the Snake Island here in Sao Paulo State, Brazil. I work taking people in a sailboat charter to many destinations like the Snake Island (Queimada Grande). So I can tell you. This is a wonderful place, speacially to dive. But there are no threasure. This TV Show is the most fake as it can be. This Island stays near from the most populated area here in Brazil. If it could be possible that just one gold coin in that island, this people would already have blewup all the place to find this.

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. Yes, I think a lot of people just watch shows like this for mild entertainment. Of course, many believe this is true! For me, I would love to visit. I truly would love to visit Brazil, maybe even move there someday. I would need to investigate.

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