iA giant humpback whale was recorded protecting a marine biologist from an encroaching shark by hiding her with its fin and thus moving her from harm’s way.
The extraordinary footage was filmed off the coast of Muri Beach, Rarotonga, of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. A seasoned whale biologist, Nan Hauser, 63, was snorkeling with the 50,000-pound mammal when a 15-foot tiger shark turned a serene moment into a life-threatening ordeal.
At first, it appeared Hauser presumed the shark was another whale coming to join the party, but when she noticed the fin was moving sideways instead of up and down like most whales, she realized her life was in jeopardy.
Like dolphins, whales are known to protect humans from shark attacks, and this video once more highlights the protective nature of the species.
Not only does the humpback use its pectoral fin to shield the divers, it can then be seen using its head and mouth to push them away from danger.
Speaking about the encounter, Nan, who is a Cook Islands resident, said, “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 that 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.”
What a beautiful- albeit slightly terrifying- experience to have had! You can watch the full video of Nan’s spectacular adventure below.