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A Man Rescued a Whale Calf Caught in Nets, and Now Faces a Fine Up to $18,000

Wildlife News
by Eben Diskin May 19, 2020

This good Samaritan’s experience in Queensland, Australia, will make anyone think twice about doing a good deed.

When a man (who wishes to remain anonymous) saw a whale calf caught in nets off the Gold Coast, he immediately went to the rescue. He dove off his small boat into the waters of Burleigh Heads, and used a knife to free the baby whale’s pectoral fin from the net that was cutting into its flesh.

He told reporters, “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.’”

Although a drone operator had spotted the baby whale earlier, and alerted authorities, it took them over two hours to arrive, by which time the man had already rescued the animal to the cheers of onlookers.

When he came ashore, he was intercepted by staff from Queensland Fisheries for interfering with shark control nets. He now faces a fine of 26,900 Australian dollars ($17,700), although nothing has been issued as of yet.

According to fisheries minister Mark Furner, “We have unfortunately seen the loss of life when people have themselves become entangled in this equipment. It will be up to the department to consider whether this gentleman will be prosecuted.”

Shark nets, reportedly meant to catch sharks to prevent attacks along the Queensland coastline, can be a threat to whales during the migrating season, said Sea Shepherd campaigner Jonathan Clark, who praised the man for his rescue.

“Yeah, I’m in trouble,” explains the rescuer. “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.”

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