Man fined for saving whale in dinghy
A LONE man in a dinghy who freed a distressed whale calf caught in shark nets off Burleigh Heads this morning has been fined.
The man reportedly launched his own rescue effort this morning after becoming frustrated at authorities for not acting quickly enough.
He used his boat to speed into waters off Burleigh Heads, removing his shirt and donning swimming fins before diving into the water to cut the baby whale free.
The whale rescuer didn't want to be named and wouldn't say how much he was fined.
The Queensland government has established a 20-metre exclusion zone around shark control equipment.
Failure to adhere to that distance could attract a $522 fine.
It's unknown how long the calf - believed to be a humpback - had been trapped.
The whale was first spotted by a documentary film crew around 7am and lifeguards and authorities were alerted.
Director Andre Borell, 33, from Brisbane said he was on the phone straight away when the whale was spotted on their footage.
"We were doing a fly along of one of the nets, looking down on it for a shot," he said.
"Then we saw a whale and that's when it all started.
"Unfortunately, no one turned up until after 10am.
"Luckily a good Samaritan came up and did fisheries job for them.
"I ran and hired a paddle board and was on my way out there myself, so I didn't see what happened.
"I've been told a guy went out in his tinny and freed the whale around the 9.45am mark, so it was caught for some time."
The Bulletin understands the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries were deployed for the rescue mission.
A Sea Sheppard Australia spokesman said SeaWorld arrived at the beach but were waiting for approval from the Queensland Agriculture and Fisheries Department.
"In the meantime, a man jumped in and cut the net to release the whale," Sea Sheppard said in a statement.
A SeaWorld spokesman said boating and fisheries were managing the rescue effort and their team was on standby if they needed assistance.
The Bulletin has contacted the Agriculture and Fisheries Department.
As whales begin their highly anticipated three-month journey from Antarctica to the warmer waters of Queensland, animal rights activists said they are concerned for the safety of whales.
This is the first case of whale entanglement this season.
Queensland Shark Control program manager Jeff Krause has previously defended the shark control measures in place and in June 2019 said whale entanglements were rare.
After five whale rescue missions last year, shark nets became the focus of heated debate.
Sea Sheppard's Queensland co-ordinator Johnathon Clark is calling for the removal of shark nets.
Sea World Gold Coast Marine Sciences director Trevor Long said he would like the State Government to host an open forum on shark mitigation measures.
The State Government invested an additional $17.1 million over four years in the Shark Control Program in the 2019-20 budget.
Originally published as Man fined for saving whale in dinghy