Whales are absolutely amazing creatures. Their sheer size alone makes them incredible. Many people board ships every day for whale watches. They wait on boats all day, just hoping to catch a glimpse of a whale. What would you do if you were in the middle of the ocean, and you are approached by a whale? What would you do if it won’t leave you alone? This is something that marine biologist, Nan Hauser, knows something about.
Nan Hauser is a marine biologist who has spent a large portion of her life monitoring and researching ocean life. She specifically focused on whales and dolphins. These creatures had been a passion of Nan’s her whole life, and for 28-years, she took part in some risky aquatic expeditions. She had also gone on countless dives in the Bahamas and the Crook Islands. It is her mission to turn the territorial waters in the South Pacific into a safe haven for whales. Most dives were uneventful, until one day she experienced something alarming and entirely out of the ordinary.
The Cook Islands
Nan is one of the leading whale experts in the world. She has been featured for her work countless times on the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and National Geographic. Nan lives on Rarotonga, which is the largest of the Cook Islands. There, she spends most of her time study the ocean life. The Cook Islands are made up of 15 small islands. The waters surrounding the islands are home to 21 species of dolphins and whales. There are also 16 types of sharks swimming in the waters, along with about 600 species of fish. This gave Nan plenty to study. On a typical day, Nan anchors the speedboat and dives into the water to explore.
Coming Up From the Depths
Nan was in the water like every other day, when she noticed something heading straight towards her, and it was huge. The creature was approaching so quickly that she didn’t have much time to think. As it got closer, she realized that it was a huge humpback whale. These whales can grow to be 60-feet long and up to 40-tons. Nan estimated that the whale that was swimming toward her had to be about 50,000-pounds. She had no idea why the creature was swimming toward her, and she couldn’t help but panic.
No Previous Encounters
Although Nan is used to swimming with many sea creatures during her studies, she has never encountered this specific type of whale. She had already studied marine life enough to know that it is not a good idea to antagonize creatures in the water, particularly large ones that you have no experience with. She wasn’t really afraid of the whale, and he made sure not the upset it or frighten it. The last thing that he needed was to be attacked but such a huge creature. Nan managed to remain calm for a while, but when the whale came to the surface for air, it got much closer to Nan. This was when her heart started to race. She wasn’t sure what this whale wanted with her.
On the Whale’s Head
Nan did what she could to avoid making contact with the whale. She didn’t even want to interact with it, in fear that it would become aggressive. She was only equipped with her snorkel and her camera when the whale continued to behave strangely. Rather than swimming right past her, the whale was heading toward her, and he wasn’t stopping. He continued moving toward her until she was on his head. She couldn’t figure out what the whale was doing. Why did he want to keep her on his head? Nan tried to keep it together, even though the whale’s behavior was causing her severe anxiety.
Nan was an experienced marine biologist, and she always has the animals’ best interests in mind when she studies them. When in the ocean, she makes sure not to touch the whales she is studying unless they are sick or stranded onshore. She often writes Rules and Regulations about whale harassment. She doesn’t want people to harass the whales in the ocean, but this whale turned the tables on her. He was harassing her. She found it to be quite ironic that this whale was doing what she teaches humans not to do to the whales.
Fearing For Her Life
As the encounter continued, Nan started to fear for her life. The giant whale was rolling around under the water, she he started nudging her. When he tucked her underneath his fin, she knew that there wasn’t much that she could do except hold on for dear life. He was lifting her to the surface with him from under his fins. Nan is the leader of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation, and he usually isn’t afraid of marine life this size. On this day, however, she feared for her life. She had never seen a whale behave this year in all the years that she had been studying them.
Preparing For the Worst
The encounter lasted about 10 minutes, but for Nan, it felt like hours. She was helpless and making her peace with the fact that the whale could kill her. If she tried to get away, she worried that he would ram her too hard or hit her with his flippers. She knew that something like this could break her bones or cause internal injuries. She knew that if he held her under his pectoral fin, she would drown. The whale continued to pursue her, pushing her around with his mouth. Nan says that it was one of the scariest things she had ever experienced in the water.
Nan knew that she had to stay calm. If she showed any type of fear, she knew that the whale would pick up on it, which could be dangerous for her. She prided herself on having a close connection to the creatures that she studied, but she was very intimidated by the whale and its behavior. She tried to keep a clear head so that she could figure out how to get herself out of the situation safely, but she still worried that her encounter with this whale would be deadly.
Caught On Film
Nan wasn’t alone in the water that day. Her team was also there, but they knew that there was nothing that they could do to save Nan from the 25-ton whale. They were just as helpless as Nan was. The cameraman who was out in the water with Nan that day was new to filming sea creatures and didn’t realize that the whale’s behavior was strange. Nan understood that it was strange, and she had no idea why he was behaving this way.
The crew realized how serious things were, and they stopped using the aerial drone that they had been using to shoot footage. They were worried about Nan, and they didn’t want to film her death. Nan wasn’t ready to give up just yet. She tried to keep eye contact with the whale as a way to try to bond with him. She thought that if the two bonded, he wouldn’t hurt her. He kept pushing her away from her research vessel, which made her believe that her chances of surviving the incident were diminishing. She was so busy focusing on the whale that she didn’t realize that there was something even more dangerous lurking nearby.
By this point, Nan’s body was getting sore. She was getting bruised by the whale’s aggressive nudges and barnacles. The whale was taking a lot out of her when he noticed another whale heading toward her. This whale was also behaving strangely. It was slapping its tail onto the surface of the water, and she couldn’t figure out what was going on. Soon, she noticed another shadow coming up from below the water. She thought that it was a third whale but quickly realized that it wasn’t’.
Humpback whales are known to migrate to the waters of the South Pacific to breed and raise their offspring during the winter months. They often travel in packs to protect their babies. Nan knew this, so she didn’t think that it was too unusual that there was another whale nearby. There was a time when these whales were close to extinction, but thanks to new laws, their numbers have slowly grown. The packs that they travel in have grown over the last few years.
Not a Whale
Nan was overwhelmed by the whales surrounding her. She tried to put some distance between herself and the whales so that she could swim to safety. She finally got a little bit of space so that she could see what was going on in front of her. She saw how the third creature was moving its tailfin from side to side. Whales move their tailfins up and down. Nan knew of one creature that moves this way, and it was a creature that she didn’t want to encounter.
A Tiger Shark
When Nan realized that it was a tiger shark heading toward her, she froze. She knew that it was too late to escape from the shark, and the fact that it was heading right for her was horrifying. She was sure that she would never get out of the water alive. Tiger sharks are deadly predators, and they can grow to be up to 25-feet long and weigh close to a ton. They are also known for attacking humans. Unlike great white sharks who often abandon their prey after one bit, tiger sharks are ruthless, and they don’t give up.
When Nan spotted the tiger shark, she was no longer worried about the whales. She knew that she was a target, and she had to get out of the water quickly. The only thing that she could do was swim toward the boat and hope that she made it there before the tiger shark reached her. She and her cameraman started to swim as fast as they could to the research boat. Fortunately, Nan and the cameraman got to the boat safely. She laid on the boat’s floor, bruised and battered, and finally realized what the whales were doing.
Nan realized after getting on the boat that the whale wasn’t trying to hurt her; it was actually trying to protect her. Humpback whales don’t usually prey on other animals because they are omnivores. They are known to protect other species of whales, dolphins, and seals from danger. She just never expected that a humpback whale would ever intervene to help a human.
Reviewing the Footage
When Nan was safely on shore, she revived the footage from that day. After watching everything play out in front of her, she realized that the whale wasn’t being aggressive toward her. She believes that the whale was trying to warn her that there was a shark in the area so that she could get away. She says that even if the shark wasn’t planning to attack her, and the whale wanted to be sure that she was safe.
Shortly after Nan and her team were all on the boat, they started to head toward shore. As they were leaving, Nan saw the whale who was protecting her. He came up out of the water and sprayed them with water from his blowhole. Nan says that it was the whale’s way of saying goodbye and making sure that she was alright before they left. Nan says that she has never experienced anything so incredible and terrifying in her life. This whale won’t let go of diver until she sees why, and she will be grateful to the whale forever.