In an interview with BBC Earth, whale biologist Nan Hauser says, “I knew there was a potential I might easily be killed by this whale.” Hauser was reminiscing about an odd and terrifying incident she had with a tiger shark and a humpback whale. While her encounter with the overprotective whale may seem like the cast of a “walks into a bar” comedy, it was actually rather frightening. Hauser was swimming towards two humpback whales off the coast of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands when one rushed at her.
Whales, despite their reputation as gentle giants, are highly strong creatures with razor-sharp barnacles lining their fins. As a result, if you do not want to squished or spiralized, hugging one is logistically difficult. The whale looked hell-bent on tucking Hauser under its pectoral fin in Hauser’s instance. Fearing for her life, things became much more terrifying when the humpback whale hauled her out of the water on its back and refused to let her go. When she finally had some room, she realized what was driving the humpback’s strange behavior.
She could see what appeared to be two whales in the distance, one of which was slamming its tail into the sea. She saw that the second whale was swimming strangely, with its pectoral fins tucked under and its tail swishing side to side rather than up and down. Hauser recognized she was gazing at the largest tiger shark she had ever seen at this point.
She stated, “I’ve spent my entire life underwater and have seen lots of tiger sharks.” “It was like being in a truck.” This was a massive tiger shark charging straight at me.”
Hauser believes the whale was attempting to encircle her with its fin in order to protect her. While we do not yet understand Whale, its purpose to save her life appears too, since its final move was to carry her back to the boat on its back. “I still can’t believe that occurred, and being a scientist makes it much more difficult,” she added. “I wouldn’t believe this tale if someone told it to me.”
Humpback whales are recognized for their altruism, a personality attribute in which you do something for someone else that helps you in no manner. Hauser’s story is a perfect example of a whale putting itself in harm’s way to save a person. Hauser was a true hero at the time, and she reunited with her saviour one year and 15 days later. After hearing over the radio that a whale had swum into the region, Hauser went out to examine it and noticed that its tail fluke had two notches, much like the one that had saved her life.
“And suddenly the whale appeared near to the boat’s side,” says the narrator, “Hauser remarked.”He turned away from the rest of the passengers on the boat and fixed his gaze on me… When I noticed a scar on his skull, I exclaimed, ‘He’s back! I cannot believe it! He’s back!’ and sure enough, he was there.
“I simply whipped on my wet skin and went [into the] water and swam down close to him, and he opened his eyes and continued poking me… It was like seeing your dog again after a six-month absence.” That is a lot of snuggling at 27-33 tons. Hauser is still in Rarotonga, where she expects to meet her cetacean friend again. She expressed her longing for him by saying, “I miss him.” “After all, who doesn’t miss a whale?”
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