Nan Hauser, a marine biologist specifically studying whales, had an incredible, if not confusing, ten minute encounter with an extremely protective humpback whale in the Cook Islands. The 30-ton animals have been know to help shield other animals – such as seals – from shark or orca attacks, but this is the first time they’ve been witnessed to help a human in such a way.
The whale nudged and pushed Nan, trying to get her under the protection of his pectoral fin – something they’ve been seen doing to seals. At once point, he even lifted her out of the water. While the whale was trying to be protective, what’s gentle to them can be dangerous or even deadly to us. Nan Hauser had to struggled to stay out of the way of its massive tail and keep herself from being trapped under its pectoral fin.
While extremely familiar with humpback whales, Nan was confused by this display and struggled to maintain her composure. She didn’t see the 15-foot tiger shark off in the distance until the end of the encounter.
She ended up a little bruised from the encounter but with a stronger understanding of the altruistic and protective nature of the creatures she’s spent her life protecting.