A breath-taking video captures the moment a giant humpback whale protected a snorkeler from a tiger shark, by pushing her through the water and protecting her under its fin.
The stunning footage shows the 50,000-pound whale push marine biologist Nan Hauser to safety using its head and mouth, and tucking her under its fin.
“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,” Hauser told the Mirror.
“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.”
She added, “I never took my eyes off him which is why I didn’t see the shark right away.”
Scientists have recorded cases where humpback whales have protected other species, but this is the first footage that documents them protecting a human, she said.
The video shows the moment Hauser realizes there is a circling tiger shark nearby and she breaks the surface of the ocean to let her team know.
Source: National Geographic
Some fisherman in the area had told her that the lurking tiger shark was about 20 feet long.
The snorkeler is eventually able to return to the safety of the boat. She looks back and the whale peaks over the surface, as if the animal is looking out for her safety.
Hauser, who has been studying whales for 28 years, had known about the altruistic behavior of humpback whales.
“They truly display altruism—sometimes at the risk of losing their own lives,” she said.
The encounter was filmed off Muri Beach on the Cook Islands in the South Pacific by a cameraman who had never filmed a whale before. Hauser says the team decided to abandon their drone footage because they didn’t want to film her death.
“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,” she told the newspaper.
“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.”