Humpback whale goes out of its way to shield research diver from shark attack

Nan Hauser has never seen anything like this in her 28 years of studying whales.


Whales are considered one of the most gentle creatures. Not only they are huge and magnificent, but they are very friendly too. That is why the strange behavior of a humpback whale left the 63-year-old biologist Nan Hauser and her crew puzzled. 

As they were snorkeling near the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, the 50,000-pound creature approached the boat and left everyone mesmerized. Being so close to such a beauty wasn’t something these lovers of the nature experience that often. They were all eager to make some close-up photos of the whale’s textured skin. But then, all of a sudden, the creature started acting a bit strange. At first it resembled a violent behavior, or maybe what this gentle giant wanted was to play, unaware of how its strength could hurt Hauser. 

Photo: Facebook/Nan Daeschler Hauser

What the whale did next was scary. It started pushing the woman through the water, lifted her up on its head, and then constantly tucked her under his pectoral fin. Hauser tried really hard to get away, but to no avail. She pushed it as hard as she could wanting to prevent it from hurting her, but she was simply powerless. 

Photo: YouTube/Caters Clips

“I stayed calm to a point but was sure that it was most likely going to be a deadly encounter,” Hauser said. “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.”

Photo: Facebook/Nan Daeschler Hauser

Everyone who witnessed this encounter was petrified. The team even stopped the drone footage fearing they could accidentally film Hauser’s death. 

“I didn’t want to panic, because I knew that he would pick up on my fear,” Hauser added. “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.”

But, it turned out things weren’t as they seemed. The reason behind this atypical behavior was a 15-foot-long tiger shark the whale tried to save Hauser from. First, the team though the creature was another whale, but later, when they noticed it was a shark they became aware of what was really going on. 

Another whale that found itself close by slapped the water with its huge tail wanting to divert the shark from the human. 

Photo: Facebook/Nan Daeschler Hauser

“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,” said Hauser.

She also says how she can’t be more grateful for what the whale did for her, although she admits she was scared during the whole time. Once she found her way to the boat, the whale who saved her life poked itself out of the water again just to make sure she was alright. 

Hauser who spent her whole life working with whales says how she has seen this type of protective behavior at whales for those of their own kind or other creatures, but this is the first time she witnessed one to step in for a human being. 

You can take a look at the chilling encounter in the video below.