It is well known that sea mammals are dangerous beings that have the ability to act as predators towards humans. The humpback whale is not known as a predator of the sea, but is considered to be one of the largest species of animals, and it would not be recommended for divers to run into whales. This brings us to the story of Nan Hauser, the marine biologist who had a distressful experience while diving back in September of 2017 that would change her life forever. Hauser looks back on her near death encounter with a humpback whale.
Nan Hauser, The Marine Biologist
Nan Hauser is an experienced marine biologist, havin spent most of her life researching, and observing oceanic life. Her main focus was on whales and dolphins for around 30 years. Throughout all her years in the field, she has taken part in many risky dives, encountering all types of oceanic creatures.
Hauser has shifted her focus to the South Pacific Ocean, with her main goal being to save the whales in that area. Although she is an experienced diver, the dive she took back in September of 2017 was unlike anything she’d ever experienced before.
Her South Pacific Home
Hauser has been seen on platforms such as National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and Discovery Center for her expertise on oceanic life. The marine biologist currently lives on one of the Cook Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean called Rarotonga.
Hauser spent her time on this small Pacific island studying oceanic life, spending most of her time out in the ocean. On one normal day, Hauser went out to go diving to explore the waters like any normal day, little did she know though that this dive would be unlike any other.
A Rather Large Figure
Hauser entered the water with no worries, ready to learn about, and enjoy the company of sea creatures. Things began to shake up immediately as she entered the water when she saw a huge creature approaching her. She immediately recognized that this was a humpback whale that was approaching her, a creature that can weigh up to 40 tons.
This was obviously an extremely scary moment for Hauser, who can only watch as the ginormous whale quickly approached her. She really had no moves to make, so she just waited to see what this whale was planning on doing.
Experience Doesn’t Matter Sometimes
Although Hauser has had decades of experience diving with animals, she was not expecting anything like this. It was even more surprising to her that the encounter was with a humpback whale, which are ginormous relative to humans.
As the whale approached, she attempted to remain calm, and was careful to not to upset the huge creature. As it began to get closer to her, she began to panic, having never been in a situation quite like this before.
This Is The End
This is when things began to get crazy. Instead of just going right by her, the whale swam directly at her, until she was practically on its head while it was swimming, dragging her along to wherever it was going. Hauser later explained the encounter in an interview, stating that “instead of swimming past me, he came right toward me and he didn’t stop coming towards me until I was on his head.”
Only having a snorkel and camera at this time, Hauser was completely unprepared for this crazy situation, and soon found herself on top of the whales head, which is when she really began to panic. Her cameraman was also with her in the water, but had no idea how to handle this situation, having never seen a whale behave like this before.
Although she genuinely believed that her life was in danger, Hauser still put the well being of the whale above her own. Hauser made sure not to touch the whale, which she only does if she notices that they are ill, or somehow wash upon the shore.
In this situation though, she had no choice but to touch the whale since it came right at her. She went on to say during an interview that she was amused by the encounter, saying that “since I write Rules and Regulations about whale harassment – and here I was being harassed by a whale.”
Fear Unlike Ever Before
After carrying Nan on its head, the whale seemed to get irritated, and followed by tucking her under its huge fin. This gave Hauser no other choice than to just hold on to its fin for dear life as the whale approached the surface.
This was the one diving experience in which Nan was actually worried, feeling threatened by this beast of an animal, having never experienced anything quite like this in her long history of being a marine biologist.
The Change In Mentality
The whale continued to carry Nan for what she claims to be around 10 minutes, which is an unimaginably scary experience. Hauser’s opinion of the sea had for once changed, and she was genuinely worried for her life.
She is quoted as having said that she was prepared to lose her life. “I tried to get away from him for fear that if he rammed me too hard, or hit me with his flippers or tail, that would break my bones and rupture my organs. If he held me under his pectoral fin, I would have drowned.”
Five Letters, R-E-L-A-X
Hauser really tried not to panic, knowing that whales are very intelligent creatures and would have recognized her fear. She tried to compose herself because she didn’t know how the whale would react to her freaking out.
This meant that Hauser had to remain calm while being dragged around the huge sea beast, which is not an easy feat, even for someone who spends tons of time in the ocean. Hauser went on to say that although she attempted to remain calm, she honestly believed that this encounter could have ended in her death.
The Moment Captured
The team Hauser went out diving with wasn’t able to help her from the boat unfortunately due to the danger of the situation, which left her to deal with everything on her own.
While the people on the boat were praying for Nan’s life, she along with a fellow cameraman were recording the encounter with the whale, which turned out to be unbelievable footage of the incident.
Hauser’s crew on the boat decided to stop using drone footage after realizing that the divers life was in serious jeopardy, and didn’t want to record something go wrong.
As the whale began to bring her further away from her boat, Nan began to lose all hope of survival. She attempted to maintain eye contact with the whale to make it stop, but was unsuccessful in doing so. Throughout this entire situation with the whale, Nan was unaware of what other creature was lurking nearby.
Lets Make It A Party
After Nan’s encounter with the whale had gone on for what seemed to be hours, she saw another whale acting strangely. The other whale was slapping its tail on the surface of the water, a strange thing for a whale to do.
As Nan was still dealing with this whale, and thought she was possibly going to be dragged around by the second whale, she saw another shadow in the distance. At first glance, Nan believed that this was a third whale, making this a whale party, but it didn’t take her long to figure out what was really going on.
How Humpbacks Travel
Whales are known for traveling in packs, and migrating to the South Pacific Ocean for breeding purposes, and for its warm temperature. They are known to travel in packs for the purpose of protecting their offspring, which is why Hauser was not shocked to have seen two, or possibly three whales in the same area.
Protective laws have been spread due to the near extinction of the humpback whale, with the species actually rising in numbers since these laws have been passed.
Nan became even more fearful for her life than before, with the whales surrounding her. At this moment, Nan attempted to get away from the whales, and as she was trying to escape, looked away from the whale that was dragging her to see the third creature in the distance. At this time, Nan was absolutely shocked at what she saw, and couldn’t believe that this dive could get worse, and scarier.
Nan, being an experienced marine biologist, noticed that this last creature was flapping its tail from side to side, unlike the whale which goes up and down. At this moment, Hauser realized that this creature she was dealing with was indeed not a whale.
A Predator Lurks
As it became clear to Hauser that this third creature was not a whale, in addition to how quickly it was approaching her, she began to get even more worried than she had been in the first place, thinking this potential predator was coming after her.
She finally recognized the creature that was approaching her as a tiger shark. Nan, having years of experience in the field had no doubt in her mind that this third creature was a tiger shark, and that it was probably after her.
The Tiger Shark
Tiger sharks are considered to be one of the most dangerous predators in the ocean, so it was reasonable for Hauser to be even more frightened at this point of the dive than before.
Tiger sharks can grow to be as big as 35 feet long, weigh around a ton, and are known for attacking humans. They are found in warmer areas of the Pacific Ocean, and will not stop their attack until they get what they want.
At this moment, Nan realized that her main concern wasn’t the whales as her fear began to focus on the tiger shark. She believed that the tiger shark was definitely after her, which meant she needed to plan a quick escape.
Nan finally made the bold decision to begin swimming towards her boat, with her cameraman following along. Hauser believed that this was the best, and only way to escape the dilemma they were in.
After somehow escaping and making it to the boat alive, along with her cameraman, she warned the rest of the team on her boat that there was a tiger shark lurking. All she could do after this wild, near death experience was lie on the floor of the boat and thank God that she was alive and okay.
As she was lying on the floor of the boat, Nan finally was given a few seconds to think about what actually went down, and how crazy of an experience it was. While observing some of the bruises the whale gave her, Hauser came to an amazing realization in this moment regarding what the humpback whale was attempting to do by dragging her around.
Humpback whales are omnivores, and therefore don’t prey on other sea creatures intentionally, and are therefore considered to be the guardians of the ocean. Whales have demonstrated this mentality towards other creatures such as dolphins and seals whenever they sense danger, constantly attempting to keep them safe from predators such as sharks.
Hauser explains how, similar to her situation, whales are known to hide other creatures under their fins to protect them from sharks and killer whales, which is when she began to put everything together.
When looking back of the footage of what had occurred that day, Nan began to realize that the whale was not acting as an aggressor in this encounter. Nan believes that the humpback whale was actually trying to warn, and save her from the tiger shark that was lurking, attempting to lead her back to the boat.
Although she was unsure whether the shark would have actually attacked her, Hauser had no doubt in her mind that the whale was trying to help save her. Hauser states in a later interview that “maybe the shark wasn’t going to attack me, but he [the whale] was trying to save my life.”
Although she was still in shock by what had happened that day, Hauser was extremely grateful for the role that the whale played in keeping her safe. This was such an unbelievable, and scary experience that not many are able to have, and she was grateful to have been dragged around by a whale, and lucky enough to have survived.
As her boat was making its way back to land, the same whale came up close to their boat. It came above the water and sprayed water out of its blowhole, which Nan interpreted as the whales way of making sure that she, and her boat, were safe.
It didn’t take long for Hauser’s story to go viral. Not many people actually get dragged around by whales in the ocean, and not only that, but who actually gets saved by a whale from being eaten by a shark? I’d probably say there aren’t many instances of this.
Although Hauser has no doubt in her mind that this was the whales intentions, other scientists are skeptical. Scientists believe that there is no way to prove what the whales intentions were, but Hauser, who actually lived the moment, knows exactly what the whale is trying to do, and has the footage to help prove it.
Getting Back What You Give
Nan Hauser has spent most of her life ensuring that whales remain safe and avoid extinction, also hoping that this story will help spread the word regarding her efforts to maintain a high quality of life for whales.
This is where Hauser goes into deep thought about the whole encounter, saying that “it’s funny how the tables are turned here, I’ve spent the past 28 years protecting whales, and in the moment, I didn’t even realize that they were protecting me.” Hauser’s encounter with a humpback whale is a wild story, and she doesn’t recommend anyone touching a whale, but wants people to think about the health and well-being of the great sea creature. This great species is clearly extremely intelligent, and has a care for other creatures unlike any other animal.