An Australian man could be facing a fine of up to $27,000 for freeing a whale that had been caught in sea nets.
The man, who wishes to be known only as Django, spotted the trapped whale in waters just off the Gold Coast on Tuesday, May 19.
He called for officials to help the mammal, but after receiving no response for hours and hours, the man took it upon himself to take his boat out, just off Burleigh Heads in Gold Coast, and untangle the whale himself.
‘I saw the whale and thought, ‘That’s pretty cool’’, Django said, as The Guardian reports. ‘Then I saw he was in the net and I thought, ”That’s not cool’’.
Django added, ‘He was about eight to nine metres deep. Because of the adrenaline my heart was just pumping.’
It’s unknown how long the whale, believed to be a humpback calf, had been stuck in the netting. However, when Django found it, the ropes had begun to dig into its skin.
Local reports say the whale was spotted by a drone at around 7.00am, and a crew from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries arrived at the scene at 9.45am.
But, by the time they arrived, the whale had already been freed and the man had drawn in a huge crowd of people, who called him a hero.
Sadly, not everyone had the same view, and Django is now facing the possibility of an eye-watering fine of $26,900 for interfering with shark control nets.
‘Yeah, I’m in trouble,’ he said. ‘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.’
While the fine is yet to be officially issued, Queensland Fisheries has confirmed it is investigating the incident.
Fisheries minister Mark Furner said Django had put himself at a huge risk by diving into the water to free the mammal.
‘It is dangerous equipment. We have unfortunately seen the loss of life when people themselves have become entangled in this equipment,’ he said. ‘It will be up to the department to consider whether this gentleman will be prosecuted.’
Meanwhile, Django has been hailed as a hero on social media for not thinking twice, and risking his own life to save the whale, which was suffering as a result of being caught up in the nets.
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