Whale-rescuing freediver spared fine


Whale-rescuing freediver spared fine


An Australian freediver has been acclaimed by the public for releasing a humpback whale calf caught in netting. But after telling reporters that he had been threatened with a fine for interfering with official “shark-control equipment”, a fund-raising campaign was started to cover his costs.  

Now, with Aus $7360 raised by more than 250 people in under two days, the Queensland Department of Fisheries has withdrawn the fine, stating that this was because the diver had no previous record of infringements.

The experienced freediver, who goes by the name Django, said he had been out in his small boat (or “tinny”) off the city of Gold Coast in the early morning of 19 May looking for manta rays when he saw the trapped whale at 8-9m.

He dived in ready to cut it free with his knife before it drowned, but found that with repeated dives he was able to disentangle its left pectoral fin from the netting. Although the rope had bitten into its flesh the calf was able to swim away.

Before leaving the scene Django was spoken to by a Queensland fisheries department rescue team understood to have been awaiting approval to free the whale, and told that he would be penalised.

Of the rescue, the freediver told 7News: “I thought most people would have done it – you just got to pay the price sometimes.” 

The maximum fine for interfering with shark-netting is $26,700 (more than £14,000).

The campaign to cover any fine imposed on Django was started by Envoy Film Documentary, which has a new film out called Envoy: Cull. This argues that shark-lines damage the marine ecosystem and serve only to lure sharks closer inshore than they would otherwise venture.

21 May 2020

Contributions to the Envoy fund-raiser will now either be returned or directed to marine-life charities.

Australian conservationists said it had been unusually early in the whale season for such an incident to occur, but that up to 10 protected whales die each season through entanglements. They have long campaigned for shark-nets to be replaced with drumlines. 

Django told reporters that the nets were in any case a waste of time – because sharks just swam around them.



Get a weekly roundup of all Divernet news and articles 🤿

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Divernet Posts

Diver Magazine Relaunch

Diver magazine needs YOU!

Are you still lamenting the demise of Diver magazine? Well now you can help resurrect an icon as we seek to bring back the magazine

Turtles of Raja Ampat

Turtles of Raja Ampat

The Raja Ampat Creature Feature Series: Turtles Raja Ampat is the perfect diving location to find four of the seven ocean turtle species of the

manta ray and diver over reef in Komodo

Divers pitch into Komodo manta probe

Manta rays choose to stick around Indonesia’s Komodo National Park in unusually large numbers – and, according to a new diver-led study, this community could

female diver holding pair of Fourth Element Tech fins

Tech fins inspired by humpback whales

Whales provided the inspiration for optimising efficiency in Fourth Element’s latest fins, according to the Cornwall-based manufacturer. The “turbulence disruptors” on top of the blades

Last Breath portrait of Woody Harrelson

Woody dives into Last Breath remake

A new version of the British documentary-thriller that captured the imaginations of divers in 2019 is about to be previewed at the Cannes Film Festival.

Follow Divernet on Social Media