Whale Saves Woman From Sharks | When a whale swam up to this woman and wouldn't leave her alone, she was freaked out — until she realized he was saving her life.
For 28 years, Nan Hauser has been researching and diving with whales. The biologist is the president and director of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation, a group that has researched everything from the population status to feeding behaviors of these animals.
But during a trip to look at whales in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific last September, Hauser says she had an encounter unlike any she had experienced before.
A humpback whale, a marine mammal capable of weighing 40 tons and growing 60 feet long, swam toward Hauser. For ten minutes, it nudged her forward with its closed mouth, tucked her under its pectoral fin, and even maneuvered her out of the water with its back.
At the time, Hauser was frightened by the encounter and unsure of what to do and what the whale was intending.
"I was prepared to lose my life," she says. "I thought he was going to hit me and break my bones."
In addition to conducting research, Hauser says she was also in the Cook Islands to work on a nature film, so at the time the whale approached, both she and a fellow diver were armed with cameras. Hauser's point-of-view footage shows just how persistently the whale nudged her. A second whale can also be seen lurking just behind the first.
When she finally made it out of the water and up onto her boat—bruised and scratched from the barnacles on the whale—Hauser saw a third tail moving from side-to-side.
"I knew that was a tiger shark," she says.
Now, after viewing the footage and reflecting on the whole harrowing experience, Hauser concludes that the whale who nudged her likely exhibited an extraordinary example of altruism.
"Maybe the shark wasn't going to attack me," she says, "but he [the whale] was trying to save my life."