WATCH: Humpback whale protects snorkeler from tiger shark during South Pacific dive


A marine biologist believes a humpback whale shielded her from a 15-foot tiger shark in the South Pacific.

>> Read more trending news 

Nan Hauser said she didn’t understand the actions of the 25-ton whale that she met face-to-face in the Cook Islands. Then she saw the shark.

She’s heard on a video telling the massive mammal, “I love you!”

The encounter took place in October, but Hauser didn’t upload the video until Monday. It quickly spread via social media.

Hauser, president of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation, told the Portland Press Herald that whales are “altruistic” and often hide seals from predators, but she has never experienced or read anything about a whale protecting a human. “If someone told me the story, I wouldn’t believe it,” she said.

The Brunswick resident said she was oblivious to the shark during the tense, 10-minute encounter. The whale started to nudge her, and appeared to push her with its head. The animal also appeared to shield her with its pectoral fin.

Her research companions turned off an underwater video drone, fearing she was going to be mauled to death.

But Hauser kept her video rolling.

She suffered some bruises and scratches from the encounter, but was otherwise unscathed. She said that after she swam back to her boat, the whale surfaced nearby as if to check on her.

While Hauser credited the whale for protecting her, she acknowledged she can’t know what the whale was thinking.

>> Related: Mass. shark researchers share incredible video of great white feasting

James Sulikowski, a marine biologist and professor at the University of New England who has studied tiger sharks, said he’s not convinced that the whale saved her life. “The shark could have just been hanging around,” he said. “There’s really no way of knowing the whale’s motivation.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Black driver pulled over, handcuffed by white cops over ‘vegetation’ on his car
Black driver pulled over, handcuffed by white cops over ‘vegetation’ on his car

An African-American driver in Winfield, Kansas, was pulled over by two white police officers May 13 for “vegetation stuff” on his car window, according to a Facebook Live video posted by driver Rudy Samuel. >> Read more trending news  Samuel started recording the traffic stop soon after it happened, when one of the...
George Zimmerman, unemployed, $2.5M in debt, gets public defender in latest legal battle
George Zimmerman, unemployed, $2.5M in debt, gets public defender in latest legal battle

A judge in Seminole County, Florida, has granted George Zimmerman a public defender to represent him in his latest legal battle. Zimmerman told the judge that he’s indigent, unemployed and has $2.5 million in debt and liabilities, according to court documents. Zimmerman is facing a misdemeanor stalking charge that was filed by the Seminole...
Maker of Sweethearts candy message hearts, Necco Wafers sold for $18.83 million
Maker of Sweethearts candy message hearts, Necco Wafers sold for $18.83 million

The bankrupt maker of Necco Wafers, Sweethearts conversation hearts and other beloved American candies has a new owner. >> Read more trending news  The Ohio-based Spangler Candy Co. offered the winning bid of $18.83 million for the iconic New England Confectionery Co., the country’s oldest continuously operating candy company...
40,000 pounds of chicken feathers blocks freeway in Washington
40,000 pounds of chicken feathers blocks freeway in Washington

Drowsy driving may have caused the driver of a semitrailer to hit a guardrail and roll his truck, dumping 40,000 pounds of chicken feathers onto Interstate 5 in Federal Way, Washington and causing a backup that stretched for miles. The crash happened on northbound I-5 around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.  Initially, four lanes were closed by the crash...
FDA warns some teething medicines are unsafe for babies
FDA warns some teething medicines are unsafe for babies

Federal health officials are warning parents to stop using over-the-counter teething products that contain the drug benzocaine, because it can cause rare but deadly side effects in children, especially those under two years old. >> Read more trending news  The FDA also sent letters to drug manufacturers Wednesday, ...
More Stories