When A 25-Ton Whale Wouldn’t Leave Her Alone, She Soon Realized Her Fate
One day the experienced marine biologist Nan Hauser was swimming as usual with wildlife when suddenly a giant humpback whale began to aggressively push her. That was something she never experienced before and realized that her life was in a great danger.
Experience With Ocean Wildlife
Nan Hauser is one of the most recognized whale experts worldwide. She lives on the Cook Islands in the South Pacific Ocean and she is the leading investigator for the Whale Research Project of that area. Therefore, she has to dive almost every day.
A Recognized Whale Expert
Nan also makes educational films about whales (their biology, behavior, genetics, and migration). She is used to having close encounters with them, so she has forged a great bond with them; well that’s she thought at least.
The Place of Her Studies
Nan helped to turn the Cook Islands territorial waters (772,200 square miles) into a whale sanctuary. Therefore, is the ideal location for an oceanic researcher as her to establish a base of studies/operations.
The Cook Islands’ marine sanctuary, Marae Moana, is a paradise of biodiversity. It’s the home of 21 species of dolphins and whales, 16 shark species, and over 600 types of fish.
Another Usual Day On The Job
Nan was having another usual day on her job: diving in the waters of Rarotonga when she had a unique whale experience that even an expert scientist like her couldn’t predict. A humpback whale suddenly approached her, so “instead of keep swimming to past me, he came towards me and he didn’t stop until having me on his head,” she recalled.
A Very Scary Moment
The giant which weights around 25 tons and measuring around 50 feet began rolling Nan around his massive frame. Although she has said she is not afraid of whales, at that moment she feared for her life because the whale has acted so unpredictable and didn’t know what would happen next.
In all her years of observing and studying these impressive sea creatures, Nan has never seen an unexpected behavior like this. “He was trying to put me on his head, or belly, or back and then put me under his massive pectoral fin,” she said.
Fearing For Her Life
The whole incident was recorded by Nan and her staff. The footage shows how the whale is swimming from deep towards the sea biologist. After surfacing for air, the massive creature repeatedly pushed her with its tail and head.
A Normal Day Turned Into A Nightmare
Nan had never feared her dear whales before. But what happened that day? Was something she did that disturbed the creature? At that moment she had to nothing but cede and pray she would escape somehow against its colossal weight.
Battered And Pushed
“I have been diving with whales for 28 years, and this is was an unusual behavior. It’s weird,” she detailed. For over 10 minutes, the sea giant relentlessly pushed her around. Nan explains with a single blow of its huge tail or fin would be enough to kill her in a second.
Trying To Keep Calm
However, the experienced scientist tried not to panic. “I stayed calm although I was sure that it was going to be a deadly encounter,” Nan said. Due to she was completely focused on escaping, she managed to find a chance to move away from the whale. However, that’s when she realized the real threat.
As Nan approached the boat, she saw another creature towards her direction. What should she do now?
Oh My God
When the big animal began swimming towards her, “When I saw that its tail was moving side to side instead of up and down, the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Oh my God!’,” she explained. Although someone as Nan is always prepared for the worst, she felt tired and breathless; “My mind went totally blank at that moment. I couldn’t think of how to escape from a situation like this,” she added.
It results that the real threat was a huge tiger shark that was approaching fast and Nan’s heart was pounded as she tried to think focused about how to act in a way so she couldn’t catch the shark’s attention and attack her.
Nan was surrounded by the whale and the approaching tiger shark, so she had no escape. She didn’t know what to do: if she should swim away or just wait to see what would happen. However, when the shark began to get closer, she had realized about something astonishing.
Trying To Protect Her
When the shark was approaching, Nan realized what the whale had actually done. Amazingly, it had been protecting her from the approaching predator. She had heard of whales protecting other animals from predators before, but this was indeed the first time she knew of a whale protecting a human.
Gentle Giant of The Sea
It seemed that the whale certainly has living up to its reputation as the “gentle giant” of the sea. A humpback whale can reach 60 feet in length and 40 tons in weight and its diet is based on tiny sea creatures and plankton. Moreover, Nan has heard many stories of humpbacks protecting and saving other animals (like seals) from predators (usually killer whales).
Motivation Of The Whales
What motivates whales to do such altruistic acts is highly debated. Fred Sharpe, a biologist from the Alaska Whale Foundation, explained in August 2017, “Whales direct their behavior for the benefit of other species.”
Whales’ Protecting Intuition
According to the biologist, whales’ protecting intuition can be compared to firemen being willing to rush into a place on fire to help save the lives of others they do not know.
Protectors Of The Sea
Although scientists don’t have an exact consensus about what the whale tried to do with that behavior, that experience marked Nan’s life forever. “It’s ironic, I have spent years protecting whales and at that moment I couldn’t realize they were protecting me,” she said.
“Besides, there is a scientific report about humpback whales protecting other animals by Robert Pitman. For instance, they can help to hide seals under their pectoral fins to protect them from killer whales at the risk of being also attacked and even lost their own lives. That’s a display of pure altruism,” Nan Hauser explained.
Fear Of Diving Into The Water Again?
The experienced sea biologist hopes that the footage she and her team were able to record would help to expand research and awareness about whales’ behaviors.
When Nan was asked if because of that incident made her afraid to dive into the water again, her answer was: “Never.”