News Good News Django unchains: Whale calf freed, but its hero courts controversy

Django unchains: Whale calf freed, but its hero courts controversy

A 'hero' in a tinny managed to free a whale calf from shark nets. Photo: Envoy Cull
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To some, Django is considered a hero for freeing a distressed whale calf trapped in a Queensland shark net.

But to Queensland Fisheries, he’s a menace.

The man, going by the name of Django, was fishing in a tinny off Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast when he spotted the distressed calf.

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 told reporters on Tuesday.

He took off his shirt and donned swimming fins before diving into the water, and freed the baby whale’s pectoral fin from the net that was cutting into its flesh.

The community hailed him a hero, but Queensland Fisheries said the rescue was “reckless and completely unnecessary”.

Django faced fines of up to $26,900 for interfering with shark control nets after officials took more than two hours to respond to the callout.

He escaped a monetary fine as it was his first offence, but received two formal warning notices for entering the exclusion zone around the shark nets and interfering with them.

The Marine Animal Rescue Team was only minutes away when the man intervened, a fisheries spokesman said in a statement.

“To be clear, this incident could have had a tragic outcome,” the spokesman said.

“He put himself in serious danger, as well as potentially injuring the whale, and creating a situation where MART could have been at significant risk trying to rescue a trapped swimmer next to the thrashing whale.”

The spokesman urged swimmers and boaties to leave rescues to the professionals.