'Holy Shiver-Me-Timbers': Crew Spots Large Container Floating in Gulf of Carpentaria

An Australian fishing boat sailing in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory, spotted a large container of unknown origin floating in the water on August 4.

In footage recorded by Bruce Davey, the container can be seen bobbing up and down in the water. “Holy shiver me timbers,” he can be heard saying at one point, as the crew grabs a closer look.

Northern Territory Infrastructure, Planning, and Logistics issued a marine navigation warning on Facebook on August 5, urging nearby vessels to “proceed with caution” around the “large floating container”.

The area is a “hotspot for debris,” according to a spokesperson for the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

Davey and the crew of his ship, named Wildcard, spotted the object as they were fishing for mackerel off Groote Eylandt, in the Northern Territory. A member dived into the water for a closer inspection. However, Davey said they were unable to open a hatch on the object.

In the video, a female member of the crew can be heard saying that they were lucky “it wasn’t nighttime, we would have smashed into it.”

The container, estimated to be of “about five meters by three meters by four meters” by Davey, was too large for the fishing boat to tow to safety.

A Northern Territory Marine Safety statement noted though that the Wildcard crew had placed a marker buoy on the container to improve visibility for mariners.

Storyful contacted Northern Territory Marine Safety for an update on the container, but no further comment was available at the time of writing. Credit: Bruce Davey via Storyful

Video transcript

BRUCE DAVEY: Yes, I was just staying along the-- off of [INAUDIBLE]. That's where our position is there. And we've noticed this large-- what essentially is a hazard of navigation on our course, as we were heading along. So we're just diverting over a little bit. Just to have a bit of a look you see exactly what it is.

- It's definitely steel, Bruce.

BRUCE DAVEY: Yeah, come out and have a bit of a look, tiger. Just let me past. What is it?

- Don't know yet, to be honest.

- It is a big box.

BRUCE DAVEY: Holly shiver me timbers.

- It might be like a plastic, may be.

BRUCE DAVEY: Man, if you ran into that at night.


BRUCE DAVEY: That would-- It is. It's a big steel box, Tiger.

- Yeah.

BRUCE DAVEY: It's got big bolts hanging out of it. Oh my goodness.

- You think we could try and drag it in?

- No way. Nothing to it.

BRUCE DAVEY: Can you just bear frost over a bit, Tiger, just so I can get a bit of an idea. [INAUDIBLE] goes underwater. Quite a long way, Tiger.

- Yeah.


- I think it's attached at the bottom.


- Oh, look at the fish under it.

BRUCE DAVEY: Oh my goodness. Look at all the dolphin fish and everything, Tiger.



- Maybe we can like make a hole or make a--

BRUCE DAVEY: We might have to try and tow that in. You just can't [AUDIO OUT]


- That's incredible.

- Look at the fish.

BRUCE DAVEY: That is--


BRUCE DAVEY: Yeah, it should do it.


BRUCE DAVEY: All right.


- It's quite large underwater.

BRUCE DAVEY: It's huge. It goes down a long way.

- I think it may be attached to the bottom.


- Massive--

- Nah, you wouldn't have a fad like that, Tiger, with no--

- It's a massive steel box.

BRUCE DAVEY: Oh, do you think it's attached to the bottom?

- I think it's sunk at bottom. It's pulling the [INAUDIBLE] it.


- It's pulling [INAUDIBLE] drifting away.

BRUCE DAVEY: You think?

- I think it should be drifting the same as us.

BRUCE DAVEY: You want to dive under and have a look?

- I think we should and see what the hell is down on there.


BRUCE DAVEY: What do you-- what do you think it is, girls?

- I thought it was shipping container.


BRUCE DAVEY: It could be staffed full of US $100 bills.

- I'm down for it.

BRUCE DAVEY: Or cocaine, or--

- [INAUDIBLE] but--


BRUCE DAVEY: What do you think, girls? What do you think it is?

- I don't know.

BRUCE DAVEY: Whatever it is, it's a danger to navigation. So we have to report it to [INAUDIBLE].

- That would put a hole--

BRUCE DAVEY: That was like right on our track.

- Luckily it wasn't nighttime. We would have smashed into that.

BRUCE DAVEY: Oh, that's a big--

- That is the stuff of nightmares at night.

- Yeah.

BRUCE DAVEY: Holly dooley.

- Maybe I've got premonitions. Remember I told you I had that dream.

BRUCE DAVEY: Now, what's keeping it afloat?

- Yes.

- Well, maybe it's air. Air.

- It must be hollow.

BRUCE DAVEY: Because there's more than that under the water like it goes--

- Yeah, it goes deep.

BRUCE DAVEY: Five or six meters down.

- I wonder [AUDIO OUT] small box like that. Like maybe it's an engine. Bruce, maybe you are going to need a new engine.

BRUCE DAVEY: You think?


- [INAUDIBLE] is right though, it doesn't seem to be moving.

BRUCE DAVEY: Oh, it's hard to say.

- --the GoPro.

BRUCE DAVEY: Yeah, actually we should have done.

- That was the last time we ever saw--

BRUCE DAVEY: Where has all the fish gone?

- They are following me.

- It's adrift.


- It's adrift.

- It's got locking points underneath you can attach to.

BRUCE DAVEY: What's it made out of?

- Steel. Metal. It's got a hatch underneath. I'll go and have a look.

- Don't open--


- Be careful.