Dolphins have been known to exhibit protective behavior and many stories have been told, but Hauser had never experienced something like that with a humpback.
In 2009, for example, marine biologist Robert Pitman snapped an incredible photo of a humpback cradling a Weddell seal to its chest while rolling out of the water, shielding the seal from a group of hungry killer whales.
Marine biologist Nan Hauser credits a 50,000 humpback whale for protecting her from a tiger shark while snorkeling recently. While only about a dozen out of 375 identified shark species are considered to be unsafe, the three species responsible for the most human attacks are the great white shark, the bull shark and, you guessed it, the tiger shark. The whale pushes her away from the shark using its head, tucks her under its pectoral fin, and even lifts her out of the water.
Nan, who lives in the Cook Islands, said: "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".
'I feel a very close kinship with animals, so despite my trepidation, I tried to stay calm and figure out how to get away from him.
The incident happened in October 2017 but the video was released only on Monday on YouTube, and has since then gone viral.
'I've spent 28 years underwater with whales, and have never had a whale so tactile and so insistent on trying to tuck me under his huge pectoral fin.
The footage shows the whale guiding the diver into a certain direction and it's not longer before Nan breaks the surface and reveals to her team on board a boat that there is a shark nearby. "I was a bit bruised up", Hauser told the Independent. "They truly display altruism - sometimes at the risk of losing their own lives", she says. The animal also appeared to shield her with its pectoral fin. It's amusing how the tables are turned here: "I've spent the past 28 years protecting whales, and in the moment, I didn't even realise that they were protecting me!"
"It's amusing how the tables are turned here", Hauser told The Mirror. "I was sure that it was most likely going to be a deadly encounter".
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