Whale Saves Snorkeler From Shark By Hiding Her Under Fin


The incredible moment a giant whale protected a snorkeler from a huge shark has been captured on camera.

The incredible video, which was caught by Nan Hauser and her team, shows how the whale saves an unsuspecting Nan from the shark.

The male humpback, which weighed around 50,000-pounds, attempted to push Nan through the water with his head and mouth, before tucking her under his pectoral fin.

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Nan, 63, thinks the encounter is proof of the whale’s intuitive protective nature, something which has never been captured on film before.

Unbeknown to Nan, a 15-foot tiger shark was lurking nearby and it took her a while to work out just what was going on.

Out of camera, there was reportedly another whale which was tail slapping and keeping the shark away from Nan while the other whale was pushing her.

Wikimedia/Albert Kok

When she did eventually realise what was lurking nearby, she thought it was another whale before she saw the movement of its tail fin from side to side.

When Nan did get out of the water to safety in the boat, the whale surfaced to check she was okay.

The incident took place in waters off Muri Beach, Rarotonga, Cook Islands, where Nan lives.

She said, according to the Mirror:

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 a bit bruised up.

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.

I tried to get away from him for fear 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.

I didn’t want to panic, because I knew that he would pick up on my fear. I stayed calm to a point but was sure that it was most likely going to be 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 didn’t see the shark right away.

It’s clear in the footage the whale is making forced contact with Nan, as opposed to the other way round.

Nan continued:

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.

Nan had never seen this particular whale until this day, so had no previous connection with the mammal.

The cameraman had never filmed whales before, so didn’t know just how unique this behaviour actually was.

There’ve been reports of altruistic behaviour from humpback whales before, but scientists have never seen this behaviour extend to humans.

The biologist now hopes to share the footage in order to expand research and awareness of such actions from whales.

She said:

There’s a published scientific paper about humpbacks protecting other species of animals, by Robert Pitman.

For instance, they hide seals under their pectoral fins to protect them from killer whales.

They truly display altruism – sometimes at the risk of losing their own lives.

There’ve been reports of the same shark in a nearby reef from fishermen and divers who say the fish is as big as a pickup truck.

The irony is not lost on Nan how she’s spent her whole life trying to protect whales and in that moment, she was protected by one without even realising.

Truly amazing.