Humpback whale saves 63-year-old from tiger shark
THE giant humpback whale edged closer and closer until it was right on top of her.
Marine biologist Nan Hauser had never seen the mammal act like this but refused to let this unexpected and unexplained behaviour turn into a moment of fear.
But her resolution was sternly tested as the 22,000kg behemoth continually rammed, nudged and, eventually, lifted her clear out of the water off Muri Beach, Rarotonga, the Cook Islands.
"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," the 63-year-old Hauser told the Daily Mirror.
"I didn't want to panic, because I knew that he would pick up on my fear."
Was this gentle giant of the deep showing its fangs?
No. Though indeed terrifying, the whale wasn't attacking, but rather defending the Hauser from a 4.5m tiger shark lurking in the water nearby.
The whale at one point even tried to protect Hauser by hiding her with its pectoral fin.
And, with the help of another whale, the giant protector succeeded in its job, making sure Hauser made it safely back to her boat.
"They truly display altruism - sometime at the risk of losing their own lives," she said.