Despite crocodiles, box jellyfish and strong currents, Daniel Kimberley and his team of divers harvest treacherous Top End reefs for the pet fish trade.

Story By David Hancock

Josh Palmer likens diving in Top End waters to swimming in iced coffee – visibility is awful but the rewards can be sweet. The 23 year old harvests coral and tropical fish for Monsoon Aquatics, a company based at Humpty Doo that supplies the aquarium industry in Australia and overseas.
Josh and fellow diver Shane Sweeney travel the Northern Territory coastline and offshore reefs in the San Pasquale II, a 17-metre Westcoaster-style vessel skippered by Daniel Kimberley, the proprietor of Monsoon Aquatics. Josh and Shane usually dive in 4–5 metres of water, connected to the vessel by a hookah air line. They work for up to two hours underwater in visibility that ranges from 50 centimetres to a few metres – often they cannot see what is around or in front of them.
“These are not easy waters to dive in,” says Daniel who, when he established the business five years ago, used to dive alone from a dinghy. “You are challenged by poor visibility, box jellyfish, large tides, strong currents, sharks and crocodiles.
“Diving can be a dangerous occupation and, at certain times of the year, [early wet season] we dive fully enclosed with hoods because of box jellyfish, but the Irukandji [jellyfish] is the one to watch out for. I am sure hundreds of sharks have seen us but we haven’t seen them."

This story excerpt is from Issue #94

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2014