Marine biologist Nan Hauser’s life is dedicated to protecting these gentle giants and, moreover, proving that whales are naturally intuitive.
After 28 years of research, she now has an incredible video that proves this to be true. The video was shot while she was snorkeling for research in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.
When Hauser was approached by a 15-foot tiger shark, a 50,000-pound humpback whale she was swimming with tucked her under his fin, shielding her from the shark, even going so far as to lift her out of the water to ensure her safety.
— Yahoo Canada News (@YahooCanadaNews) January 8, 2018
While this unbelievable video was being filmed, Hauser was unaware that a shark was nearby, and thought it was simply another whale coming to play (what a job, right?). It was only when she saw the animal moving its tail left to right, instead of up to down, that she realized it was not a whale but, rather, a potentially dangerous animal swimming towards her.
According to National Geographic, each year there are about 50 to 70 confirmed shark attacks on humans. While only about a dozen out of 375 identified shark species are considered to be dangerous, the three species responsible for the most human attacks are the great white shark, the bull shark and, you guessed it, the tiger shark.
“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,” she told The Mirror, “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,” she continues. According to Hauser, the occurrence, which took place back in October, is the first documented case where a humpback whale has protected a human from a huge tiger shark.
A closer look at the footage shows the heartfelt moment that the whale biologist returns to safety, while the whale peeks its head above the water to check up on his new friend.
Hauser has dedicated her life to studying marine life around the Cook Islands where she lives, including the humpback whale population that moves through the area. In this 2013 “60 Minutes” interview about the resurgence of humpback whale populations, Hauser spoke about how dangerous interactions with the massive animals can be (her interview starts around 6:15).
[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUsN32BtMd0IoByjJRNF12cw&v=s9b_1OSNv34″ /]
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