If you saw a humpback whale heading in your direction, you’d probably start swimming for your life. They’re not known for having a palate for anything other than shrimp, but their size makes them an obstacle, especially if they bump into you while you’re diving. But that wasn’t what marine biologist Nan Hauser was worried about. She has become an expert at diving for the last 28 years, and wild whales are just some of the perks of the job. But back in October, something completely unexpected happened while she was diving near the Cook Islands, in the South Pacific.The crew would film her as she swam with a bunch of humpback whales, but one whale started behaving oddly. It swam up and nudged her with his mouth, as if trying to hide Hauser within his pectoral fin.
Eventually, he used his fin to push her out of the water, and kept his eye right next to her. But for the life of her, Hauser couldn’t figure out what it was that he was so desperately trying to communicate to her. But one thing was certain, his warning was urgent.
She didn’t think that the whale itself was dangerous, but his odd behavior was making her heart pump. In fact, she thought that the camera crew would end up recording her final moments of life at the hands of this whale.
As luck would have it, the whale was the least of her worries, and she realized it when she shifted her focus towards another sea creature whose tail swung side to side. “Whales swim with their tails moving up and down,” said Hauser. That’s when she realized a tiger shark was out to get her.
She quickly jumped into the boat the first chance she had, and then watched as the whale swam nearby to make sure that she was alright. At this point, Hauser had tears in her eyes, and not just because she was alive. The animal’s unusual behavior saved her life.
According to marine biologist Robert Pitman, humpback whales will defend any animal being attacked by killer whales. Clearly, white tiger sharks have something to worry about too. Ironically, days later, Hauser was back in the water, but kept a more watchful eye for sharks.