Paddle Boarders Risk $30K Fine To Save Humpback Whale Caught In Net
Shutterstock / Kat Ferrer

Paddle Boarders Risk $30K Fine To Save Humpback Whale Caught In Net

After rescuing an entrapped whale off the coast of Australia, a group of paddle boarders now faces expensive fines.

According to Unilad, a humpback whale was seemingly drowning in a shark net off the coast of Australia's Marcoola Beach on the morning of July 1st. Will Wensley and Brenton Owens had planned to paddle board and practice yoga on the beach that morning. Their plans took a turn after watching the whale struggle in the water.

The pair first called authorities, but sprung into action after an hour of waiting for help to arrive. With the help of friends Luke Bird and Jaz Sol, they cut the net and subsequently freed the whale.

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The group paddle-boarded away without a scratch, and the whale swam off. All was seemingly well, but the group now faces pushback for their actions.

Humpback Whale Freed From Net by Paddle Boarders

While the paddle boarders and their actions seem heroic, they have received pushback for their choices in the time that has since passed.

Naomi Gardiner, a senior lecturer in marine biology and aquaculture at James Cook University, expressed concern over the dangers of the public intervening with distressed wild animals. Gardiner mentioned that in this particular situation, the whale could have easily knocked a rescuer out, or done even worse, with one sudden movement. She warned that the dangers of the rescue were far greater than the boarders had assumed.

Under Queensland legislation, multiple fines exist, which could be leveled against the group of boarders.

Firstly, coming within 20 feet of a shark net used in the state government's program is illegal. Secondly, entering waters within 100 meters of a whale is also grounds for a fine.

The potential fine the group could face comes to $32,260. The consequence would certainly feel hefty for what seemed to be a well-intended foursome jumping into action to save a distressed animal. It is currently unknown whether all fines will be waived, as a "reasonable cause" exemption does exist.

Regardless, of legal trouble, the group's actions on July 1st had been successful in freeing the whale, and that is something worth mentioning.