Carl Atkinson

Carl Atkinson, Tom Lewis collection

 

The daily fish feeding ritual is credited to renowned Australian diver Carl Atkinson who lived at the present site of Aquascene from 1945 to 1979. During those years he enjoyed the company of his pet crocodile Cuthbert, Sammy the snake and many greatly loved dogs.

He was a salvage expert, adventurer and lover of all things associated with the sea. He became one of Australia’s most famous deep-sea divers and won huge contracts working Allied ships sunk in Darwin Harbour during the bombing raids of February 1942.

Due to the cumbersome diving equipment used in those days, consisting of weights, helmets and airhoses, Carl was known to have made his own make-shift decompression chamber, however it was also put to good use with the mostly Japanese pearl divers who suffered the ‘bends’ as part of their perilous work. He is known to have saved at least 16 pearl divers lives with this equipment.

One day Carl began throwing bread scraps to a few small fish he saw in the water with the thought of creating ‘fresh fish for dinner’. More and more fish came every day on the high tide to be hand fed. Carl never did have his fresh fish for dinner – he always said ‘one doesn’t eat one’s friends!’

A colourful character until his death in 1985, we thank Carl for creating the fish feeding phenomena we enjoy today.