Due to the proximity of the sea and the prevailing weather patterns, recreational use of Darwin harbour and the surrounding seas is very high.
Now I'm sure that some of you may have heard of the nasties which live in the waters around Darwin. You know the sort of thing I'm talking about - killer crocodiles, sharks the size of small whales and jellyfish which can kill with just one nasty look. Well, as with all fairy stories there are certain amounts of fact mixed up with the fiction. However these small drawbacks should not stop you from taking pleasure in and on the waters around Darwin
Number one nasty to be found in the waters around Darwin is without doubt the Box Jelly fish. Now these little critters vary in size but an average one would have tentacles of a few metres in length and a body about the same size as a carton of milk. Because they are almost transparent they are very difficult to spot. It's the tentacles which do the damage. If you brush up against a tentacle or if the tentacle wraps around your body then the injection of venom which you may receive can be fatal (normally only to the very young, elderly or those at risk). Even if it is not a fatal sting, and the vast majority are not fatal, the resultant pain and subsequent scarring can be horrific.
Box Jellyfish are active in the waters around Darwin and the Top End all year around, however, from May to October the incidence of Box Jellyfish being found near beaches is very, very low. Most locals will quite happily go for a swim in the sea during this time of the year. During the remainder of the year it's not a good idea to go swimming in the sea. It's a good idea to take vinegar with you when you go to the beach. Vinegar (yes, normal fish and chips type vinegar), is the best first line of medication should you be unlucky enough to be stung. Vinegar poured onto the tentacles helps to nullify the venom. Get the victim to a doctor immediately. If you're going to be diving, water skiing or jetskiing during the wet season (November to April) it's a good idea to wear a stinger suit, which is just a very thin body suit covering the whole body but it's enough to stop the damage from a Box Jellyfish (it's also considered to be quite kinky by some people).
As for sharks, well I've been in Darwin for fourteen years during which time I've been an active diver, water skier, recreational fisher and yachtie, and in all of that time I've never been menaced by a shark. I don't know of any shark attack victims in this area. There's probably plenty of sharks but they're so well fed they are not interested in humans. I've come across a couple while diving but they've never bothered me at all.
Crocodiles. Yeah, okay, so there are a few crocodiles around the place, but honestly as long as you don't go for a swim in a river or an area outside the beaches around Darwin you should be allright. Outside of Darwin the waterways and sea have lots of Saltwater Crocodiles and I wouldn't stick my big toe in the water never mind go for a swim, but in the harbour immediately around Darwin I don't have a problem with the water. Darwin Harbour is patrolled on an almost daily basis to capture any sightseeing crocodiles and traps are set up in certain parts of the harbour to try and catch the more nervous beasts.
If you use common sense and follow the directions to be found on signposts at the waters edge you should have a trouble free swim. If you don't follow the local directions you may get eaten - in which case don't come running to me complaining.