“Then I saw the whale and I was like ‘that’s pretty cool’."
We surfers, we waggers of tongues and tattlers of tales, have not had a very good Coronavirus Pandemic run or, or at least not as it relates to public perception. Afraid, vicious little rats is how we’ve come off. Also, sanctimonious, hypocritical know-it-alls. Throwing each other under the bus, collaborating with draconian authorities, zooming our whimsical entries for the #HomeBreakChallenge instead of just paddling out into the vast ocean.
Heroes have, of course, risen. Heroes like Mickey Minor in La Jolla who told a SUP to “fuck off” just days ago. Heroes like Django on Australia’s Gold Coast who, yesterday, freed a trapped baby whale from a shark net off Burleigh Heads.
Let’s hurry and read his story before some surfer and/or Stab magazine writer demands a citizen’s arrest.
A diver who freed a baby humpback whale from a Gold Coast shark net, while authorities were making their way to the scene, was expecting a fine, despite his good deed.
The man, named only as “Django”, rejected the “hero” status bestowed on him on social media and said he could afford any fine coming his way, despite internet strangers offering to raise funds to cover the cost.
Django took to the water off Burleigh Heads about 7am on Tuesday after a drone operator reportedly spotted the whale entangled in the shark net.
“I was going for a dive off Burleigh,” Django said. “Then I saw the whale and I was like ‘that’s pretty cool’. Then I saw he was in the net and I thought ‘that’s not that cool’. So I went over and had a look, and then the adrenaline kicked in.
I had a knife, but I didn’t really need to use it, he just had his left pectoral fin wrapped up.
“Eventually, I got him enough out of the rope so he could just break free.”
Django said he was not scared of the whale but was cautious of the potentially deadly ramifications of coming too close to shark nets.
Django said he passed the Department of Fisheries team responding to the incident on his way back to shore and explained what had happened.
He said the government workers told him he would be fined for his actions, but Django didn’t go into detail about what the fine was for.
On Tuesday night, a Department of Agriculture and Fisheries spokesman said no decision had been made regarding whether Django would be fined, with the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol yet to finalise its investigation.
Under Queensland laws, shark-control equipment is protected by a 20-metre exclusion zone. Those failing to adhere can be fined $26,900.
In response to questions regarding a potential fine, Django said: “Oh yeah, it’s fair enough … I can afford it … it was an expensive day, but whatever … you’ve just got to pay the price sometimes.”
Despite his potentially expensive day out, Django said he would be back in the water on Wednesday because “the surf is pumping”.
And a proper hero. A reason to feel proud again and all of it, from Django’s name to the fact that he doesn’t care about the fine he’s going to cop to his Wednesday plans, is just perfection.
Should we raise money for a Django statue to be erected at Burleigh Heads?
Speaking of, does the Gold Coast have a statue of Mick Fanning anywhere?
Let’s hurry with our Django plan.