Django - Tinny Man Story

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Django - Tinny Man Story

On Wednesday 19th May 2020, a humpback calf was caught up in a shark net off Burleigh Heads, Seaworld had their hands tied and sat by waiting for fisheries to approve the release of the Whale.

We all watched while marine lover Django who just happened to be out on the water at the time free dive down to release the whale ensuring its survival as it was being dragged down to the bottom. 

Fisheries followed Django home and issued him an initial fine of $1300 & ensured him there would be an investigation which could result in a potential fine of up to $60,000, for tampering with shark nets & going within 20m of Shark nets. Dale Harris (First National Burleigh, Principal) a lifetime local saw all this unfold and decided he wanted to do something about it.  He knew he couldn’t do it alone so he asked the local community to support him in his goal of getting this mans fines completely paid for through a Go Fund Me campaign.

Due to the overwhelming support from the community and the massive public outcry the initial fine was revoked & any threat of any further potential fines removed.  The Go Fund Me page raised a MASSIVE $1,6402.69, which Django decided to donate to Sea Shepherd – Harmony Campaign. 

Below is a video that was put together by Envoy a local film production company, it shows tells the story from start to finish.  Envoy also had a Go Fund me page running & were in the middle of producing their documentary Envoy: Cull that highlights the dangers of Shark Nets to Marine Wildlife.

What made you want to start a go fund me campaign for Django ' Tinny Man'?

I believed it was wrong for someone to be fined for doing something that I thought was very brave and selfless. If it wasn’t for what Django did the whale may have not made it. There is no way he should have been penalised for rescuing this animal.

What was the public response to your campaign?

Unbelievable, it went viral incredibly quick and the reach was amazing. We had responses from all around the world and the Go Fund me page made it to major newspapers in the UK, New Zealand and Austria that I am aware of. We had over 700 donations.

Did you expect the exposure this received?

Absolutely not, but it was so good to see the public jump on board and support this hero. Also the awareness this campaign raised for marine protection was enormous, so many people I spoke to had never thought much about shark nets and the biproducts they capture.

How long did the campaign run for

I think all up it was around 10 days.

At what point did you realise the dept of fisheries were not going to issue any fines to Django?

It wasn’t till about day 7 that fisheries made a statement that they have withdrawn the initial fine and weren’t going to pursue any further charges or fines.

Do you think the amount of public support for this campaign made an impact on the decision?

Most definitely. The public were one hundred percent behind what Django did and a number of the community sent letters and emails to the Minister for Fisheries expressing their disgust at Django possibly being heavily fined. The amount of support Django received on social media was just insane and really couldn’t be measured as it crossed so many platforms and groups.

What was the public response when the money was redirected to sea shepherd?

Really positive, from the outset I had clearly stated on the Go Fund me page any excess funds would be redirected to research/charity relevant to whale conversation and research. Django chose Sea Shepherd and the public supported his  decision. Out of the 700 plus donations approx. only 12 requested their money back. Anyone who donated was given 7 days to request a refund once fisheries announced no fines.

Do you know how  the donated money has been spent?

Yes, Sea Shepherd are utilising it to purchase hardware and other items for the Apex Harmony Campaign which focuses its time and energy on this issue of shark nets. So far they have purchased drones & have been able to get their volunteers accredited for flying them on the Gold Coast.

What was the best part of this story for you?

The Gold Coast is a fantastic place to live, we share our play spaces with our marine friends, the community agreed that we need to protect them as much as possible, The response was 99% positive, this NEVER happens with an online campaigns.

This was in the first few months of Covid restrictions, there wasn’t a lot of extra spare money to go around it was humbling to see so many people donated what they could.

It was a massive learning experience for me, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Django, Johnathon & his Sea Shepherd crew & the boys from Envoy. It was fantastic to realise how many people are volunteering to stand up and be protectors of our oceans.

Click here to see the link to the trailer.

Click here to read the Sea Shepherd press release thanking Django & the community.


by Dale Harris

Django - Tinny Man Story
Monday 27th July, 2020
First National Burleigh Principal & Licensed Real Estate Agent
M. 0401 009 197 | E. We Put You First

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