Nan Hauser has dedicated the last 28 years of her life to protecting whales. But she never thought the day would come when a whale would protect her.
In fact, she always assumed that a whale would be the death of her.
“I’ve always said I’d be killed by a whale,” Hauser, a renowned marine biologist and President and Director of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation and Director of the Cook Islands Whale & Wildlife Centre, told Press Herald.
But the total opposite occurred in October when she was diving in waters off of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. She was searching for whales to study and decided to swim towards a humpback whale to get a closer look.
She was smart enough not to touch it but the creature decided that he was going to touch her.
“That whale was intent on keeping me away and hiding me and I didn’t know why,” Nan told The Dodo. “He came right for me he didn’t stop. He kept pushing me and I was like ‘Whoa, whoa,’ you know.”
Hauser tried to push herself away from the whale but he kept coming closer and nudging her. And Hauser had absolutely no idea why.
In all her years of working with whales, she had never seen anything like this.
“He put his eye next to my eye. I was like what is going on here. He didn’t want to hurt me,” Hauser explains. “He had me on his head and he rolled me over and I was on his chin and then I was down his pectoral fin and he wouldn’t leave me alone. He wouldn’t stop!”
At one point, Hauser was paralyzed with fear.
“I was really scared. I mean, who wouldn’tbe scared? Rolling around and roling down the back of a whale,” Hauser said. “I kept thinking, ‘Get me out of here!’ Then he lifted me up on his pec fin. Literally out of the water and I’m yelling to everybody on my boat, ‘Somebody come help me.’”
Hauser rolled around with the whale for about 10 and a half minutes before she realized why the whale was behaving in such a manner.
She realized that there was a huge tiger shark nearby and that the whale was trying to save her.
“I went, ‘Oh my God, he was protecting me,” she recalls. “The whale got me to the boat he made sure I’m Ok.”
When she finally got back on her boat she was a little shaken up and told everyone about the shark.
“I got to the back of the boat and I was just laughing but it was sort of a nervous laugh like I lived through this. Why did this happen to me? This is crazy and I’ve been doing this for 28 years,” she recalls.
When she turned around she noticed that the whale was still close by and spouting out his blowhole.
“I love you too, I do. I love you,” she told the whale.
Hauser says she was astonished by what she saw that day.
“They call me the whale witch, I’ve had a lot of close encounters and great encounters.I’ve had the come up and have their pectoral fin come up over my head. There are a lot of accconts of humpbacks hiding seals underneath their pectoral fins from killer whales,” she said.
“I just never heard of them doing it for humans. These animals have an altruistic behavior they will risk themselves to save another species like a fireman would run into a house on fire. I can’t say for sure what was going on in his head but he protected me from potential danger. This was a once in a lifetime experience.”
You can see their encounter in the video below.
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