A lone rescuer who is now known as "hero in a tiny" made headlines after his dramatic rescue of a baby whale trapped in shark nets off Burleigh Headland on the Gold Coast on Tuesday, 19 May.

Django 'Hero in a Tinny' unchained a whale


Authorities claimed that the man could be fined for his efforts, however, Australians have rallied together and created a crowdfunding campaign to help the man, known only as Django.


The crowdfunding campaign has, at the time of publishing, seen donations from 584 donors, totalling $14 350, (or R258 000, at an exchange rate of $1 = R17.98).


The target was set for $15 000 (R270 000) and organisers say that any surplus money after the Django's fine will be donated to humpback conservation and whale research.

A legend in the eyes of the local community


One of the organisers, Alison Harris, said Django is now a legend in the eyes of the local community. Harris also thanked everyone for donating and considering the cause. She adds:


"It is wonderful to see so many of us who are passionate about keeping our marine life safe. Hopefully the public outrage will limit the fine amount or maybe even cancel the initial fine". 

Watch Today show interview and rescue footage:


The crowdfunding campaign can be found at Go Fund Me.

Distressed whale originally spotted by drone operator


The incident unfolded on Tuesday morning, 19 May 2020, when a baby whale tangled in shark net caught the attention of a drone operator.


The operator then alerted authorities to the situation, but no assistance was provided. That's when Django, a local diver, took his small boat (also known as a tinny) and made his way to the baby whale.


Using a knife, Django freed the baby whale from its confinement as onlookers gathered along the shore cheered him; they began referring to him as the "hero in the tinny".


The mood soon turned sour when authorities pointed out that it's an offence to approach a whale in the wild. It's also an offence to be so close to shark nets.

Watch: Rescue of baby whale trapped in shark nets, interview with 'Hero in a Tinny'

Image via Twitter

'You've got to pay the price sometimes'


However, officials at the scene claimed that such a rescue attempt is extremely dangerous as people, even experienced divers and fishermen, can get caught up in the nets.


Speaking to reporters, Django said that it has turned into an "expensive day," but added that "there are laws; they [fishery officials] are doing a good job". He added:

"It is what it is. I thought most people would have done it. You've just got to pay the price sometimes."


Also read – Whales freed from entanglement in fishing ropes off Western Cape shores