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Gold Coast "Tinny Man" Presented with a Certificate of Bravery from Sea Shepherd for Saving Whale

Thursday, Jun 11, 2020

Sea Shepherd Australia has awarded Django (AKA Tinny Man) a certificate of bravery for his courageous efforts in freeing a juvenile whale from a shark net off Burleigh Heads in Queensland. 

On May 19th 2020, Sea Shepherd Australia's Shark Campaigner Jonathan Clark was notified about 7:40am that a whale might have been caught in a shark net at Burleigh Heads off the coast of southern Queensland. He immediately called the manager of the Queensland Shark Control Program who was monitoring via a remote camera but could not confirm that a whale was indeed in the net.

Jonathan quickly mobilised Sea Shepherd volunteers who went to monitor the situation. It was confirmed that a juvenile humpback whale was struggling for life and needed urgent assistance. 

Sea Shepherd's Apex Harmony campaign has been exposing this cruelty since 2014 by recording footage, and monitoring the contractors who check the nets and hooks and are responsible for culling any targeted sharks. 

The Queensland government has created a 20m exclusion zone around the culling equipment making it illegal for Sea Shepherd and other concerned citizens to even approach the gear. When the juvenile humpback whale was caught, many onlookers were feeling helpless and frustrated as they continued waiting for the Department of Fisheries official rescue team to arrive or give the green light to Sea World to disentangle the whale. 

As precious time passed, and the delay in rescuing the magnificent creature increased, the luck of the whale changed when a man in a small tinny boat, unaware of the context, saw that the whale needed urgent help and jumped into the water to untangle it from the net. 

Within minutes, the whale was freed and continuing its migration, and the man was back in his small boat. Still unaware of the potential fine of up to $27 thousand that he might face for this courageous and potentially dangerous act. 

Photo: Envoy Films/ Blaze Parsons

The story of the entangled whale and Tinny Man’s rescue made headlines across the globe.

Community members set up a GoFundMe page to help Tinny Man with the fine and donations poured in, yet the Department of Fisheries, responsible for the Shark Control Program, was aware of the mass support for Tinny Man’s actions and must have realised it would reflect poorly on them if they issued a fine. 

Tinny Man was relieved and has become a passionate advocate for the removal of nets and drumlines. He’s asked that the funds that were donated towards his possible fine be given to Sea Shepherd so we can continue to protect precious marine life. 

Sea Shepherd Australia would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Django for his generosity and for being a voice for the oceans. 

Django (left) and the GoFundMe campaign organisers Dale & Alison Harris (centre) present a cheque to Sea Shepherd Shark Campaigner Jonathan Clark (right)

This is an amazing story of bravery. The community has rallied behind Tinny Man to demonstrate support for his kindness and express their concern for migrating whales. Australians want these deadly nets removed.

- Sea Shepherd Australia Shark Campaigner, Jonathan Clark

In 2019 alone, five whales were unnecessarily caught in shark nets that are part of Queensland’s Shark Control Program. As whales make their annual mass migration to Queensland’s warmer waters, we urgently need the nets removed. 

New South Wales has acknowledged the nets are dangerous to whales and has already removed them for migration season. Tell Queensland to follow their lead before more whales are harmed.

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