Stunning images show the moment that a 50,000-pound humpback whale pushed a snorkeler through the water to protect her from […]
Stunning images show the moment that a 50,000-pound humpback whale pushed a snorkeler through the water to protect her from a nearby shark.
The pictures of Nan Hauser, 63, show how the massive sea creature pushed the whale biologist with his head and his mouth, then tucked her under its pectoral fin and even lifted her out of the water on one occasion.
However, lurking near the mammal and Hauser was a 15-foot tiger shark, as well as another whale that was moving its tail to ward off the shark.
Nan Hauser believes it is proof of whale’s intuitive nature to protect other species of animal — including humans — something she believes has never been captured on film.
As Hauser returned to the safety of the boat, in the waters off Muri Beach, Rarotonga, the Cook Islands, the whale even came back to check on her.
Hauser, who lives on the Cook Islands, said to the Daily Mirror: “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.”
“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.
“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 feel a very close kinship with animals, so despite my trepidation, I tried to stay calm and figure out how to get away from him.
“I never took my eyes off him which is why I didn’t see the shark right away.”
Nan had never seen the whale before she entered the water that day.
On the biologist’s nearby research vessel, Hauser’s team was worried about her, abandoning their drone footage because, as Nan describes the moment, they “did not want to film my death.”
Dolphins have been known to exhibit protective behavior and many stories have been told, but Hauser had never experienced something like that with a humpback.
For over 10 minutes, Hauser said, she was focused on the whale, unaware of the shark nearby.
“They truly display altruism — sometimes at the risk of losing their own lives.”
“This is the first documented case where a humpback whale has protected a human from a huge tiger shark,” Nan said.