Giant Whale Won’t Leave Diver Alone, She Then Realizes He Is Trying To Tell Her Something –
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Giant Whale Won’t Leave Diver Alone, She Then Realizes He Is Trying To Tell Her Something

Despite their immense size, whales are amongst the most mysterious and least understood creatures on Earth. In the South Pacific’s Cook Islands, a tense encounter a seasoned marine biologist had with a humpback whale serves to demonstrate just how much we have yet to learn about these gentle Giants and has sent shock waves throughout the scientific community in the process.

Nan Hauser is a 63-year-old marine biologist who has made it her life’s work to study, research, and help whales. Born in Maine, she’s trotted across the globe for the past three decades on a mission to document and save as many whales as she can by fighting for their rights and protection.

It was late summer when Nan was swimming off the shore of Rarotonga, accompanied by a research vessel and being watched by her colleagues who were tracking her course by eye and with a drone using a waterproof camera. Nan was documenting her swim near a small pod of humpback whales.

As she was shooting, a large male humpback whale, likely weighing over 23 tons and measuring at least 50 feet in length, began to swim toward her. Usually, when swimming with whales, Nan would be the one approaching the animal in order to observe its behavior, not the other way around. But this time, something was different. The huge animal was rushing at her, and as it got closer, she realized she wouldn’t be able to get out of its path.

If anyone could be considered an expert on swimming with whales, it’s probably Nan. It’s a big part of her work and something she’s done more than most people on Earth, hundreds if not thousands of times throughout her career as a conservationist and marine biologist. So, when she was bewildered by the whale’s behavior, she knew she was in trouble.

The closer the whale got, the clearer it was becoming that something was wrong. As Nan tried to get away, the whale continued to ram into her, pushing her farther and farther away from the boat. A moderate hit from a humpback whale had the potential to break bones and damage her internal organs, and that was merely if the whale continued his current behavior.

While Nan was currently being pushed by the whale’s head, she knew that one wrong movement could put her in range of other much more dangerous and muscular appendages – his flippers. Humpbacks aren’t known for aggressive behavior, but they are nevertheless extremely powerful animals, and even one wrong move, one unintended hit by a flipper or tail, could knock Nan unconscious and leave her to drown.

Staying close to the whale’s head was probably the safest area she could be in considering humpback whales don’t have teeth but rather sheets of soft baleen in their mouth. Still, Nan knew she had to distance herself from the whale as much as possible, as quickly as possible.

To do that, Nan had to stay as calm and collected as she possibly could. If the whale sensed any change in her behavior, though, he might change his, which was something she wasn’t willing to risk. Despite the extreme situation she had found herself in, Nan decided to continue to document and photograph the whale while she tried to escape. As her camera continued to record the events, Nan grew sick with the thought that she might very well be documenting her own death.

Back on the research vessel, Nan’s friends and crew were following the worrying event with the help of their drone. They could tell something was wrong but were unable to help. All they could do was watch and pray.

Nan wasn’t the only person in the water when the whale decided to start pushing her away. Her diving buddy, however, wasn’t nearly as experienced as she was and didn’t share the same understanding of cetacean behavior.

Nan’s whale aggressor continued to push her farther and farther away, a distance was forming between her and her research vessel, and soon Nan would find herself out in the open ocean. And to make matters worse, after a while, it seemed like they had company. Another huge aquatic animal began to appear from the depths off in the distance. Nan could tell that another humpback had joined them.

Nan was getting pretty bruised from the whole ordeal. The whale had been pushing her along for more than 10 minutes, and the rough barnacles on its skin were scraping her body whenever the whale touched her. Suddenly, Nan realized what his reasoning was. She could see what was making the whale act in this strange manner and understood that she was in a truly life-threatening situation. If she wanted to live, she had to get away as quickly as she could.

Often the distance near the second whale, Nan could finally see what was making it lash out with its tail: a tiger shark, known as the man-eating shark. Tiger sharks are dangerous, brutal predators, and this one was much larger than average, coming in at more than 15 feet in length.

Nan suddenly realized that the whales weren’t attacking her; they were attempting to protect her from the dangerous predator. Thankfully, Nan and her dive buddy managed to break away from the whales and reach their boat at the very last minute. As Nan pulled herself on board between gasps for air, she let the crew know that a big tiger shark was prowling the waters around them.

But as her pulse calmed down, Nan was far from afraid. In fact, she was exhilarated. Understanding what happened, she realized the whales were trying to save her, not harm her.

As Nan stumbled to her feet, she walked to the ship’s railing. There, waiting patiently, was the male humpback whale that had tried to save her from the shark. It seemed like it was concerned, waiting to make sure Nan was all right before it returned to sea.

As Nan reviewed the footage from her and her diving buddy’s underwater cameras, she theorized that the whale had kept her close to him in order to protect her from the nearby shark. It was the first time she had ever heard of, let alone experienced, whales acting in this way with humans.

Researchers are quite familiar with humpbacks helping other animals in dangerous situations; the marine ecologist Robert Pittman, for instance, had once witnessed a humpback flinging a seal out of the water in order to save it from a pod of killer whales. But Nan’s case was special; while whales have been known to help other species, this would be the first reported case of them helping out a human being.

As Nan’s story began to circulate, the scientific community was divided. Some believed Nan’s theory was the true explanation for the whale’s behavior, while others said it was impossible to tell what the humpback’s intentions truly were.

Some believed the whale could have been acting in this manner for different reasons, and that the shark’s presence in the water could have been unrelated.

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