Something incredible and unbelievable was caught on camera! This behavior in a whale has never been witnessed or recorded before.
Nan Hauser, a 63 year old biologist, was swimming off the coast of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, when the giant humpback whale that weights about 25-tons swam in to save her life!
The whale pushed the snorkeler back to safety in order to save her from a potentially deadly attack from a 15ft tiger shark.
She said the encounter may be proof of a whale’s intuitive nature to protect other species, also including humans.
“I’ve spent the past 28 years protecting whales, and in the moment, I didn’t even realize that they were protecting me” said Nan Hauser.
Nan shared her story and said that what happened was that the whale tucked her in under its pectoral fin and pushed her along with his head and mouth for around 10 minutes. When she looked at the shark, at first she thought that it was another whale. But after a short time she realized that it is moving it’s tail from side to side, instead of up and down, and that is the moment she realized that it is a shark.
Nan said that she was afraid for her life and at that moment she believed that this encounter will end deadly. She said: “I didn’t want to panic, because I knew that he would pick up on my fear. I stayed calm to a point but was sure that it was most likely going to be a deadly encounter.”
“I wasn’t sure what the whale was up to when he approached me, and it didn’t stop pushing me around for over 10 minutes. It seemed like hours. I was a bit bruised up. I’ve spent 28 years underwater with whales, and have never had a whale so tactile and so insistent on putting me on his head, or belly, or back, or, most of all, trying to tuck me under his huge pectoral fin. I tried to get away from him for fear that if he rammed me too hard, or hit me with his flippers or tail, that would break my bones and rupture my organs. If he held me under his pectoral fin, I would have drowned.”
Another thing she said was that a second whale was also trying to keep the shark away from her by slapping its tail.
She said that other fisherman in the area have seen the shark before and that they have said that it is as big as a pickup truck and that some say that it is a 20 feet long shark.
In almost three decades of studying whales, the 63 year old biologist said that she has never witnessed such behavior in whales, being protective of humans.
She had heard of the altruistic behavior of humpback whales before, about them protecting their young ones, other species of whales, seals, and dolphins, but scientists have never seen humpbacks actually protecting humans. However, such actions have been previously witnessed in dolphins.
Ms Hauser said: “There is a published scientific paper about humpbacks protecting other species of animals, by Robert Pitman. For instance, they hide seals under their pectoral fins to protect them from killer whales. They truly display altruism – sometimes at the risk of losing their own lives.”
Ms Hauser doesn’t encourage touching the whales: “I never touch the whales that I study unless they are sick or stranded on the beach, she said. “In my head, I was a bit amused since I write Rules and Regulations about whale harassment – and here I was being harassed by a whale”.
While she was in the water, her team that was in a nearby vessel was scared for her safety and her life. Apparently they had a drone recording everything but they quickly abandoned their drone footage because they “did not want to film my death,” Ms Hauser said.
How scary and incredible is this whole happening! Thanks to the huge whale, Ms Hauser’s life was saved and she can continue with her studies. She said that she hopes to share the footage she and her team were able to capture, in order to expand research and awareness of such actions from whales.