Aussie Hero Avoids Massive Fine For Saving Baby Whale From Netting
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An Australian man has luckily escaped a fine that could have been as much as $27,000 for helping a baby whale in distress.
The man, known only as Django, was spotted by a drone diving into waters off the Gold Coast after he noticed the majestic animal was struggling to swim.
"I saw a whale and thought, 'that's pretty cool'," he told 7News. "I saw it was in the net and thought, 'well, that's not that cool'. Basically I just tried to untangle him."
Django was in his tinny off Burleigh Heads and called the Queensland Department of Fisheries about the whale in distress. However, when he noticed that time was of the essence, he took matters into his own hands.
While many were cheering him on social media, he was met with the prospect of getting a hefty fine in the mail because Queensland law prevents anyone from tampering with a shark net or coming in close proximity to a whale.
According to 7News, he could have copped a fine of up to $27,000 for the offences.
Django continued: "I'm in trouble. It was an expensive day, but whatever. There are laws. They [fisheries officials] do a good job. It is what it is. I thought most people would have done it. You just got to pay the price sometimes."
Thankfully, the Queensland Fisheries Department has decided to issue him an official warning.
In a statement, the department said: "To be clear, this incident could have had a tragic outcome. The actions we saw earlier this week were reckless and completely unnecessary.
"He put himself in serious danger, as well as potentially injuring the whale. In 1992, a surfer drowned after becoming entangled by shark control equipment. This is why there is a 20-metre exclusion zone around shark control equipment.
"If you see an entangled animal, do not approach or try to release it."
Django admits that adrenaline kicked into gear when he saw the whale calf and he didn't think there was enough time to sit and weigh up all the options.
When news circulated that he was going to cop a fine, an online fundraiser was started to help Django. The GoFundMe managed to raise more than $16,000, which will now be donated to Sea Shepherd.
The fundraiser states: "As Django is no longer facing the fine, all donations raised will now be given directly to a charity of his choice: Sea Shepard Australia. This remarkable organisation is dedicated towards protecting and conserving our oceans and marine life.
"We are in direct contact with Sea Shepherd Australia and it will share an update on how your donations will help protect our local oceans within the next few days."
Anyone who gave a donation hoping it would help Django directly are able to apply for a refund.