We often have the ability to interact with the world around us in unique and amazing ways. For some of us, it may be something as simple as sitting in the park and watching the birds but for others, it is getting up close and personal to some of the largest animals on earth. That includes humpback whales, amazing creatures who inhabit the ocean and have captivated the attention of people for as long as we have been around.
Some of us have had the privilege of being close to humpback whales on some type of ocean excursion. Perhaps you have visited the island of Hawaii during the time that the whales were in the area. When you look out over the water, you see them breaching the surface and you can’t help but be amazed with how large these gentle creatures are. For Nan Hauser, however, the dedication to humpback whales goes far beyond casual observance. She has spent 28 years of her life protecting whales as the president and director of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation. She is also a Marine biologist and director of the Cook Islands Whale & Wildlife Centre.
Recently, Hauser had an opportunity to interact with a whale in a very different way. You get to go along in the video that is shown below and you can see that it was a very frightening experience. Hauser admits that she always said she would be killed by a whale, and perhaps she thought that it was the day for it to happen.
As it turns out, however, the exact opposite took place. It all came down when she was diving off of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific during an October excursion. She was studying whales and saw a humpback in the distance, so she swam over to get a closer look.
From her experience, she realized that it was best as she did not approach and touch the whale. As it turns out, the whale decided it was going to approach and touch her. She said:
“That whale was intent on keeping me away and hiding me and I didn’t know why. He came right for me he didn’t stop. He kept pushing me and I was like ‘Whoa, whoa,’ you know.”
Hauser attempted to push away from the whale but he continued to get closer and to nudge her. She didn’t know why he was doing it. In fact, she had never experienced anything like this in all her years of studying whales.
“He put his eye next to my eye. I was like what is going on here. He didn’t want to hurt me. He had me on his head and he rolled me over and I was on his chin and then I was down his pectoral fin and he wouldn’t leave me alone. He wouldn’t stop!”
Hauser was quite frightened with what was happening.
“I was really scared. I mean, who wouldn’t be scared? Rolling around and rolling down the back of a whale. I kept thinking, ‘Get me out of here!’ Then he lifted me up on his pec fin. Literally out of the water and I’m yelling to everybody on my boat, ‘Somebody come help me.'”
This nudging continued to take place for about 10 minutes. It wasn’t until that time that she realized why the whale was doing this. As it turns out, there was a huge tiger shark in the nearby water and the whale was saving her life.
“I went, ‘Oh my God, he was protecting me. The whale got me to the boat he made sure I’m Ok.”
When she was safely back on the boat, she told everyone about her encounter and about the shark.
“I got to the back of the boat and I was just laughing but it was sort of a nervous laugh like I lived through this. Why did this happen to me? This is crazy and I’ve been doing this for 28 years.”
When she looked around, she saw that the whale was still nearby. It was almost as if he was making sure she was safe.
She shouted to the whale: “I love you too, I do. I love you”
Hauser was amazed by what had happened to her that day.
“They call me the whale witch, I’ve had a lot of close encounters and great encounters.I’ve had the come up and have their pectoral fin come up over my head. There are a lot of accconts of humpbacks hiding seals underneath their pectoral fins from killer whales.”
“I just never heard of them doing it for humans. These animals have an altruistic behavior they will risk themselves to save another species like a fireman would run into a house on fire. I can’t say for sure what was going on in his head but he protected me from potential danger. This was a once in a lifetime experience.”
You can watch her close encounter in the video below: