Nan Hauser is one lucky biologist who owes her life to an anonymous humpback whale who saved her from an almost certain death by shark in the waters off Muri Beach, Rarotonga, The Cook Islands of the South Pacific.
Nan Hauser's Brush With Death Is Caught On Video
A native of the Cook islands, the 63 year-old whale biologist believes that her harrowing escape from the jaws of death is proof of the whale's intuitive nature to protect other species of animals, which includes humans. While she knew that humpback whales are very protective of their young and of other species of whales, seals and dolphins, she had never seen in her 28 years as a whale biologist a humpback whale protecting a human. Many stories relate how dolphins have been known to exhibit protective behavior towards humans in distress. She compares this sense of rescue to that found in firemen, who are willing to risk their own lives and rush into burning buildings to rescue perfect strangers. (See: Dolphins Guide Scientist to Drowning Girl.)
How It All Happened
Nan Hauser was snorkeling near her research vessel when she encountered a gigantic humpback whale. Although an experienced human making contact with such an enormous creature is encouraged within the scientific community, this whale's behavior was unusual because it was forcefully making contact with her and she didn't know why. She had never seen the whale before she entered the water on that fateful day. See: Gimpy The Blind Elephant Seal.)
In her own words: "I never touch the whales that I study unless they are sick or stranded on the beach. In my head. I was a bit amused, since I write Rules and Regulations about whale harassment and here I was being harassed by a whale...I wasn't sure what the whale was up to when he approached me, and it didn't stop pushing me around for over 10 minutes. It seemed like hours. I was bruised up.." (See: Giant Rats Save Lives.)
Nan has been studying whales and their behavior for almost thirty years and had never observed humpback whales protecting humans until it happened to her. The camera man who was filming her as she snorkeled through the water had never captured whale behavior before and he was unaware of the uniqueness of this whale's activities. (See; Horse Protects Owner From Dog Attack.)
Death Loomed Just a Few Feet Away
Lurking nearby was a 15-foot tiger shark, and slightly out of view was another whale that was constantly slapping its tail and keeping the shark away from Nan and the whale that was pushing her. Nan did not see the shark at first, and when she saw it move, at first she thought it was another whale. Then she noticed its tail moving from side to side instead of up and down. Other fishermen and divers who had seen this same shark near the reef said that it was as large as a "pick-up truck." (See; Pride of Lions Save Kidnapped Ethiopian Child.)
Nan said: "I didn't want to panic because I knew it would pickup on my fear. I stayed calm to a point, but was sure that this was most likely to become a deadly encounter. 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. I never took my eyes off him, which is why I don't see the shark right away...I have never seen a whale 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." (See; Hero Cat Saves Yacht Owner From Drowning.)
As Nan returned to the safety of the boat, the whale even surfaced to check on her. She hopes to share the footage that she and her team were able to capture in order to expand research and awareness of such whale behavior. The irony of the situation did not escape her when she told the press: "It's funny how the tables have turned here. I've spent the last 28 years protecting whales, and in this moment, I didn't even realize that they were protecting me!" (See: Elephant Who Stopped For A Child.)
Here's to whales everywhere!