Whale Miraculously Protect A Diver From A Large Shark
Nan Hauser is a marine biologist who has been diving with whales for nearly 30 years. In the amazing photos that follow, you can see the moment a 50,000-pound (about 23,000 kilograms) humpback whale pushed her into the water, again and again, to protect her from a nearby shark.
In October, Hauser was diving in the waters off Muri Beach in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, South Pacific, with a crew that wanted to film her in the water with humpback whales. In an unusually persistent manner, one of the whales approached her and began pushing her with its mouth and chin, apparently trying to get her under its pectoral fin.
Hauser commented to The Dodo:
He just wouldn’t stop touching me. I tried to walk away again and again, but he kept doing it. Finally he pushed me out of the water with his fin. He kept putting his eye right next to me and I couldn’t understand what he was trying to tell me.
The interaction continued in the same manner for about 10 minutes, and with adrenaline pumping, the worst thoughts began to invade the female biologist’s mind. Hauser’s team, concerned for her, abandoned the drone recording because, as Nan describes the moment, “they didn’t want to film my death.”
“I thought the camera crew was going to end up filming my death. One lash from a whale’s tail, and the pressure would break your bones. “
But it turned out that the whale was not the one Hauser had to fear. She soon realized that there was a shark nearby and that the whale was doing its best to keep her away from it. Another whale in the distance was keeping watch, repeatedly slapping its tail against the water; the noise can be heard underwater for miles.
“I finally took my eye off the whale and saw something swimming very fast with its tail swinging from side to side. Whales swim with their tails going up and down… It was at that moment that I realized that it was a tiger shark, and it was one of the largest sharks I have ever seen in my life.
By this time, the whale had brought Hauser back to the boat after a few intense minutes of grabbing and spinning. When the time came, Hauser quickly jumped into the boat and the whale even returned to keep an eye on him.
“I just put my hands on my face and started crying. I can’t say if they were tears of relief because I was alive, or because I had just experienced the most incredible thing I have ever seen in my life.
Humpback whales are known to care about others, and several documented cases show that they attempt to save other animals from danger. Marine biologist Bert Pitman has analyzed this behavior for more than 60 years and concluded that humpback whales frequently band together to disrupt orca attacks, regardless of the type of animal being attacked.
To date, the encounter with Hauser is the only documented case involving a human. While Hauser suffered some bruising from the encounter, it did not prevent her from returning to the same waters a few days later on her birthday. A female humpback whale followed her boat for miles and kept jumping out of the water as if to get her attention.
“I only knew that she was the second whale that day, the one that was hitting the water. I got into the water with her and she dove down. I thought ‘No, she didn’t recognize me.’ But right below me, she was coming up with her beautiful pectoral fins out. She put her flippers on and hugged me.
After a few days of excitement, Hauser couldn’t help but feel more inspired than ever to continue her important work and raise awareness of the issues facing whales in the world’s oceans.
Watch video below :
H/T: the dodo
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