It’s common knowledge that whales are some of the most intelligent mammals in the ocean, but this breath-taking footage of a giant humpback protecting a diver from a shark proves they may be more like us than we ever thought possible.
In the stunning clip, marine biologist Nan Hauser and her team caught the moment a whale pushed her to safety using its head and mouth, even lifting the scientist out of the water entirely at one point.
The whale clearly knew there was a shark nearby and protected Nan by shielding her underneath his pectoral fin and pushing her through the water to safety.
Nan, 63, says that the video clip is proof of whales’ intuitive nature and instinct to protect other species, including humans.
In the footage, Nan is swimming next to the roughly 50,000-pound mammal when a 15ft tiger shark began to lurk nearby.
The shark can only be seen faintly in the distance at one point during the footage, but had it not been for the whale’s actions, it could have posed a real threat to Nan and her team.
According to the scientist, there was another whale just out of shot, who was tail-slapping to keep the shark at a safe distance while she was pushed to safety.
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. It seemed like hours. I was a bit bruised up.
“I’ve spent 28 years underwater with whales, and have never had a whale so tactile and so insistent on putting me on his head, or belly, or back, or, most of all, trying to tuck me under his huge pectoral fin.
“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.
“I didn’t want to panic, because I knew that he would pick up on my fear.
“I stayed calm to a point but was sure that it was most likely going to be a deadly encounter.
“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.
“I never took my eyes off him which is why I didn’t see the shark right away.”
Featured Image Credit: Caters