If you’ve ever seen the movie Jaws, you might (like many) have a fear of what lurks beneath the deep blue sea. But while marine biologist Nan Hauser was snorkeling in the waters of Muri Beach in the Cook Islands, an unexpected friend came to her rescue. Unaware that a giant tiger shark was circling closer towards her, Hauser and her team managed to capture the incredible moment a humpback whale sprung into action and saved her life.
When the 50,000-pound mammal first charged her, Hauser naturally panicked. She recalls, “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 transpires that the benevolent whale had tucked Hauser under his huge pectoral fin, and even tried to push her to the surface by nudging her with his head, stomach, and back. After several minutes, Hauser finally noticed the shark in the distance and was astonished to realize the whale had been trying to save her.
After swimming back to the safety of the boat, the gentle giant even surfaced to check on her. She jokes, “It's funny how the tables are turned here: I've spent the past 28 years protecting whales, and in the moment, I didn't even realize that they were protecting me!” Scientists have recorded humpback whales protecting their young, seals, and dolphins in similar ways, but Hauser believes this is the first record of one doing the same for a human.
While marine biologist Nan Hauser was snorkeling in the waters of Muri Beach in the Cook Islands, an unexpected friend came to her rescue.