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Unbelievable moment humongous humpback whale saves marine biologist from terrifying shark

Keryn Donnelly

| Last updated 

Unbelievable moment humongous humpback whale saves marine biologist from terrifying shark

A marine biologist has recalled the time a 50,000 pound humpback whale saved her from a shark.

Nan Hauser was snorkeling near Muri Beach, Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands, when the encounter took place back in 2017.

Footage of the incident has been released by National Geographic as part of its annual Sharkfest event.

In the video, the now 69-year-old explains that she was admiring the ocean when she spotted a tiger shark heading in her direction.


"I suddenly realised that the shark is coming up just at me right below," she explained. "It’s moving fast and it’s coming towards me."

Hauser explains that out of shot, a humpback whale was frantically slapping its tail to warn the 15ft long shark away from her.

"I know and the whale knows that this is a serious situation. I wanted to get out of the water," she explained.


The whale expert said the humpback then scooped her up and thrusted her out of the water.

When she reached the surface, she was able to alert the crew on the boat before she went back underwater.

"All of a sudden, I was swooped up by the whale that had been pushing me and now he's got me right on the front of his face," she explained.

"Somehow I always sort of knew with my job that I'd probably be killed by a whale, so I thought is this the day?"


While Hauser tried to avoid getting stuck under the whale's pectoral fins, it lifted her up and placed her back on the surface of the water near the boat.

"I suddenly realise that the shark is coming up. Right below me. The whale pushes me back to the boat," she explains in the video.

Hauser climbed onto the boat and when she looked out at the water, the whale was keeping a watchful eye on her from a few metres away.

"I look and he’s right there next to me, protecting me," she said. "I cried."


The whale then returned to the depths of the ocean.

Hauser told NPR in 2018 that although she was 'pretty bruised up' after the incident, she believes the whale wasn't trying to hurt her.

"He could have. He could have whacked me with his pectoral fin or his tail. I'd be dead. I mean, he was really pushing me with the front of his mouth, too. He could've opened his mouth, and he didn't do that, either. But I didn't know he wasn't going to do any of that," she said.

Featured Image Credit: National Geographic

Topics: News, World News, Animals

Keryn Donnelly
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