Marine biologist Nan Heuser had an unlikely hero save her as she was diving near the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. While she was diving, one of the ocean’s most dangerous predators began to circle nearby: a tiger shark. That’s when a humpback whale pushed her to safety.
The 50,000-pound marine mammal used his mouth and head to help push Heuser through the water. At one point, the male whale tucked her under his pectoral fin and lifted her out of the water.
The 15-foot shark is barely visible in the footage as the whale worked to continue pushing Heuser back to the boat. Heuser said another whale was slapping his tail to keep the shark away. She initially thought the shark was a whale until she realized its tail was moving from side to side rather than up and down like a whale.
“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 marine biologist said. “It seemed like hours. I was a bit bruised up.”
“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,” she continued. “If he held me under his pectoral fin, I would have drowned.”
She was “sure that it was most likely going to be a deadly encounter.” Her team on the research vessel ended their drone footage as they didn’t want to film her death. But, the whale was not harming her. He was saving her from a predator.
The amazing video is below. Watch how the whale says goodbye after he drops her off at the boat! It’s like the ending of a Disney movie!
Scientists had never witnessed humpback whales protecting humans before. Nearby fisherman also saw the shark and believe it could be as large as 20 feet long.
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