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Whale Rescue Could Result in $27000 Fine


juvenile humpback whale tangled in shark nets off the Queensland coast at Burleigh heads
juvenile humpback whale tangled in shark nets off the Queensland coast at Burleigh heads

A good Samaritan could be fined for a whale rescue he performed off the Queensland coast at Burleigh heads.

The local, a keen diver, noticed that the juvenile humpback whale had become tangled in shark nets and after several attempts, he managed to free the creature.

juvenile humpback whale tangled in shark nets
Juvenile humpback whale tangled in shark nets

The man who called himself Django said.

“I saw the whale, and I thought, that is pretty cool', Then I saw he was in the net, and I thought, that is not cool'.”

“He just had his pectoral fin sort of wrapped up, and he was about eight to nine metres deep. Adrenaline just sort of kicked in. Basically, I just tried to untangle him,” he said.” I had a knife, I didn't really need to use the knife though.

“Yeah, I'm in trouble. I wasn't going out there to see whales. It was an expensive day but whatever … you pay the price sometimes, “I didn't think about what the fine was.”

A crowd had gathered onshore to witness the whale rescue and cheered when the humpback was released however not everyone was impressed with the heroics of Django

The fisheries minister, Mark Furner, said the rescue was incredibly risky. “It is dangerous equipment. We have unfortunately seen the loss of life when people have themselves become entangled in this equipment.

He then added

Django had not yet been fined, “It will be up to the department to consider whether this gentleman will be prosecuted.”

“It is important that people allow the professionals to do their jobs in circumstances like this,”

Interfering with shark next can lead to a fine of almost $27,000. Approaching whales is also illegal.

rescue mission underway to save whale calf stuck in nets
Rescue mission underway to save whale calf stuck in nets

This incident has once again ignited the debate about the use of shark nets along some of Queensland beaches. With some environmental groups calling for them to be removed.

Lawrence Chlebeck, from Humane Society International, urged against a fine for Django, saying to the problem was the government's policy of deploying shark nets which are prone to harming marine life.

“It's great that this citizen decided to do this, but I know it definitely is against the law, I hope the government understands the good that he did, in the bigger picture. How many wake-up calls do you need when this [whale entanglements] is happening 4-10 times a year for the past few decades.”

Mr Furner said the State Government had committed $1 million over four years to investigate alternatives to shark nets.

As for Django, it would appear that no good deed goes unpunished.

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Picture of Adrian Stacey
Adrian Stacey
Scuba Diver ANZ Editor, Adrian Stacey, first learned to dive on the Great Barrier Reef over 24 years ago. Since then he has worked as a dive instructor and underwater photographer in various locations around the world including, Egypt, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico and Saba. He has now settled in Australia, back to where his love of diving first began.
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