Needless to say, she is a bonafide expert where these majestic creatures are concerned. She’s had notable diving exploits in the Cook Islands and the Bahamas for almost three decades, and she shows no interest in slowing down. While she has a general interest in marine life, dolphins and whales are her focus. However, even with all her knowledge, nothing prepared her for this unbelievable day in the Pacific ocean.
Never Ignore the Word “Wild”
Wild animals are nothing like trained pets, so they’re a bit more unpredictable. Thankfully, there are many people who study them, so the public knows how to treat each of them. How do you think people learned that lions see humans as food?
It’s great that there are people who spend the time learning about wild animals, and while the information is useful, it doesn’t mean that humans know everything there is to about them. This story is a shocking example of how true that is.
Hauser Isn’t Ignorant of the Danger
Do you think anyone needs to tell a marine biologist that very big animals can be dangerous in their own habitat? During her studies, Hauser picked up all the little details to keep herself safe.
With such an interest in marine biology, she is always careful. Not many people know the kind of damage these enormous creatures can do better than she does. So, she always did her research safely.
An Unprecedented Experience
Sometimes, nature needs a little help to keep things flowing as they should. It’s a good thing there are people like Nan around. She has been helping to maintain a whale friendly South Pacific environment for years.
She’s not the first diver to ever do this, but she did make history. No diver before her has ever been through the kind of occurrence that she did. All she was doing was her job.
Naturally, Nan is the definition of an expert in Marine Biology. She focused in on dolphins and whales, and she’s knocked it out of the ballpark too. It’s no surprise too, with the kind of experience that she has under her belt.
Her work in her field is well respected by those who know what she’s done. She’s even shared her experience with the world via the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, and more. She’s truly become a cornerstone of the marine life industry.
She conducts most of her research around Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, which is where she’s from. The marine life has probably even accepted her as one of their own at this point. She has spent a great portion of her life with them, after all.
Rarotonga is known for its ridges, rainforests, and volcanic peaks. It’s the most populous of all the Cook Islands of the South Pacific. That says a lot when you consider the fact that there are 15 of these islands in all.
Get Acquainted with the Cook Islands
The South Pacific Cook Islands are known for its diverse marine life. There are over 630 species of animals in the waters, including whales, dolphins, sharks, and fish. No wonder Nan made it her playground.
The location has become quite a tourist destination over the years, and the features speak for themselves. The weather tends to be great, the beaches are awesome, and there is a lot of aquatic wildlife to enjoy.
The Cook Islands and New Zealand
The Cook Islands have quite an interesting relationship with New Zealand. There is a self-governing system, which is in free association with the territory. In fact, Cook Islanders are considered citizens of New Zealand.
All this is the reason that 61% of the island’s tourists hail from New Zealand. The two nations also engage in a lucrative trade relationship, though the Cook Islands are on the receiving end of most of the goods.
When Hauser experienced this unbelievable ordeal, she had planned to do a bit more than research. She wanted to collect her data with appropriate footage, which meant that cameras needed to be brought along for the ride.
It wasn’t all about recording observations too, as Nan and her companion had a whole production in mind. The idea was to get an entire nature film on camera, as they completed the expedition in the water.
Business As Usual
Nan had a routine that she conducted whenever it was time to go on one of these expeditions. On this day, she did everything like she normally would. Of course, it was muscle memory after she had done it so many times before.
The expectation here was for everything to go as well as it always does. What she didn’t yet realize was the extent to which this fateful day was very different.
What Kind of Sign Is This?
After doing something for many years, you get a feeling when something is not going the way that you expect it to. Even when things look normal to everyone else, you can tell the difference.
This was the case for Nan, as she could already see that something was off. There was a huge silhouette in the sea’s depths. What’s more, it seemed as if it was coming at her.
What Could This Potentially Dangerous Creature Be?
Naturally, Nan found herself on high alert. She didn’t expect to be the target of any sea creature while she was out. Be that as it may, she was acutely aware of the looming threat.
While there are many docile creatures in the sea, Hauser knew that there were others that didn’t fit that laid back bill. Therefore, there was a serious cause for concern. Still, she needed to identify the creature first.
Breathing a Sigh of Relief
The creature was approaching at a breakneck speed, which just served to increase the terror, intrigue, and tension. If nothing else, she could tell that it was one of the larger known creatures in the sea.
In a moment of happiness and relief, Nan realized that the supposed threat was a humpback whale. These are large creatures that can weigh 40 tons and grow to be as long as 60 feet in length.
Docile Doesn’t Mean Harmless
One of the mistakes people make with docile creatures is to think that they aren’t dangerous at all. Take elephants, for example. They may not want to turn you into dinner, but they can surely crush you.
Humpback whales fall under this category too. They would usually never intentionally harm humans, but they are still very large. A tail flip could be enough to cause some serious damage to a nearby diver.
This Is One Very Huge Whale
One look at this creature was enough to clue Nan in on the fact that it was no baby. The size factor was very apparent when it was far away was enough to cement this fact.
Years of marine life experience allowed Nan to tell that the whale weight about 50,000 pounds just by looking at it. She may have guessed the animal’s size, but she was in for a shock.
Hauser Always Held Diving Close to Her Heart
You don’t just get up and study one thing for over 30 years unless you really have a passion for it. Nan’s dedication to becoming an expert is a reflection of this kind of devotion.
Many people give up on their dreams in just a fraction of the time Nan has spent on hers. If you ask her, she’s the first to tell you that the journey was worth it.
She Knows the Whales Well
Are you wondering why her terror simply faded away when she identified the creature? Much of it is the experience factor that was discussed. She immediately knew she was in no danger.
After being so close to the whales for decades, she was well acquainted with their non-aggressive nature towards humans. There’s a reason she’s one of the world’s leading experts. This familiarity is why what happened was so surprising to her.
The Whale Got Super Close
She was acutely aware of the fact that staying calm was the best course of action around the whales. If not, she’d risk upsetting the creature, which could lead to a bad time for her.
Strangely enough, the whale came up for air and got way too close to her for comfort. Even with her vast knowledge, she couldn’t help panicking in the situation. It’s understandable considering the creature’s sheer size.
She Simply Could Not Get Away
Naturally, she wanted to maintain a safe distance between herself and the whale. Unfortunately, this was much easier said than done, as it seemed near impossible with the creature’s behavior.
Every time she tried to establish some distance, the whale closed the gap. It wouldn’t allow her to break the proximity. It even got to the point where it began to touch her. She didn’t know what to do.
Things Only Seemed to Get Worse from There
Even in her moment of uncertainty, she knew that alarming the whale could result in dire consequences for her. She then decided that the best course of action was to remain still.
She didn’t move as it approached, but then she noticed just how close it had gotten. Imagine her surprise when she looked down to see that she was somehow on the creature’s head!
The Whales Must Come First
It’s always important to remember that the whales are in their natural habitat. As a diver, Nan is the one that is technically disrupting the normal flow of things in the sea.
Therefore, she always ensures that she gives the proper regard to the creatures. Her respect for marine life is commendable, and she never lets curiosity get the best of her. She never touches the animals unless they need help.
It Was Time to Break the Established Rule
Though Nan knew that she was never supposed to touch the whales unless necessary, the rule had to be broken on this day. Did she do it because she wanted to?
It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t want to have any contact with it, but the whale seemed to insist. The creature decided to begin the physical contact. Not even all her years of studying could explain this.
An Ironic Turn of Events
Based on the role that she had fulfilled up to that point, this was a most ironic occurrence. There was nothing that could explain why the whale was behaving in the manner that it was.
Hauser was responsible for drafting regulations that applied to whale harassment. Oddly enough though, her she was being harassed by a whale. Was it the whale’s way of saying thanks for her good work?
The Moment Things Got Really Scary
Nan was never normally afraid of the whales, and there was good reason for that. After all, there are not many people in the world who understood them better than she did.
This time, though, she was understandably very scared. Things got to a point where the whale began to behave in a dangerous manner that had never been seen before. Nothing could’ve clued Nan in to expect something like this.
This Whale Seemed Infuriated
These creatures had never been known to be dangerous of their own accord. If anything, divers would’ve needed to get in their way or be too close for any concerns around danger to be raised.
This creature, however, was a different story. It seemed to be very irritated, based on the way it was behaving. One can only imagine what Nan was thinking, as she was completely out of her element with the whale.
The Physicality Picked Up
Nan was already out of her element when the whale kept coming at her, and then things got even scarier when it started to touch her. However, the fear was just beginning.
The creature then kicked things up when it repeatedly started to nudge Hauser. The situation only got more terrifying, as the whale began to drag poor Nan to the surface by tucking her under one of its massive fins.
An Undeniable Panic
It’s said that the strongest human emotion is fear. That only increases when it’s a fear of the unknown. This is the kind of uncertainty that Nan had to deal with, and it must’ve been unnerving.
Remember that these whales are very big creatures. So, just imagine a situation where a gigantic animal charges at you and seems to be attacking you. There is no amount of preparation that can suffice there.
Danger Makes Units of Time Feel Longer
In a dire situation such as this one, time seems to almost standstill. Even the shortest spells of peril can feel like there’s no end to them in sight.
The whole ordeal went on for approximately 10 minutes. However, anyone who had to deal with that would tell you that it would’ve felt like hours. The whale began to push her with its mouth, and there was nothing she could do.
She Was at the Whale’s Mercy
The humpback whale is as large as it is powerful. It’s one of the reasons why Hauser avoided touching them unless necessary. There’s no telling the kind of damage that one could do to her.
Now she was in a situation where one was ramming her continuously. The scary thing to note here is that the whale could effortlessly generate enough force to break the bones in her body.
Nan Hauser’s Mental State
So, here she was, in a situation where here physical capabilities were all taken away from her. This is the kind of occurrence that leads a person to start preparing for the worst possible outcome there is.
While the behavior of the animal was foreign, Nan knew the kind of danger that was looming over her. She faced serious injury or even death, and she was powerless to do anything.
Even Now, She Still Relied on Her Knowledge
In the midst of the catastrophe, Nan still found the mental fortitude to put her studies into practice. It wasn’t hard to tell that she was putting in an immense effort to remain calm.
She knew that it was still possible to enrage the whale even further, and if she did, the outcomes she was worried about would likely become an unfortunate reality for her.
An Unprecedented Encounter
This isn’t an experience that Hauser had ever gone through before. If any normal person decided to do some diving, then things may be different. These animals could intimidate almost anyone because of their size.
However, Nan wasn’t just anyone. She may not live in the water, but this was her arena. She had seen and learned all there was to learn, didn’t she? Apparently, there was some vital information that was missing.
She Wasn’t Alone, but That Didn’t Matter
As you would recall, Nan didn’t begin this expedition on her own. Remember that she wanted to do a whole production. Therefore, her team was there with her throughout the ordeal.
Though she had people present, it made no difference. She had to face this alone. If her team members interfered, things might have gotten worse. Maybe the whale would’ve instantly killed her out of sheer annoyance.
It Became a Game of Uncomfortable Patience
Knowing that there was nothing that they could do, her team members were forced to wait out the tragedy. Everyone was worriedly wondering where this terrible day would go next.
Nan may have been the one being pushed and dragged by the whale, but her team was also in a worried state. Imagine wanting to save someone, but knowing that trying to may end the person’s life.
All the Action Was Recorded
Since the team went to record marine activity, the cameras were all out by the time all this started. In fact, Nan and another diver had already recorded some amazing visuals before this started.
A dedicated cameraman was present, and he probably had no idea what to expect. He probably even thought that this was normal whale behavior. Nevertheless, everything Nan was going through with the creature was being recorded.
The Ethical Side of the Recording Process
The whole point of being on the excursion was to capture as much as possible. Anything that was unnecessary would be edited out of the video anyways. Still, the team had to make a tough call.
The question was, “Do we keep rolling?” No one wanted to capture Nan’s potential death. Eventually, they decided to stop the drone filming. They had to be considerate with their recording duties.
Nan Didn’t Notice All of Her Surroundings
Nan’s main consideration was leaving this ordeal unharmed. It stands to reason that she didn’t notice every little detail. She did, however, notice that she was being taken increasingly further away from her boat.
Hauser was so focused on where she was being taken that she somehow managed to miss a very important detail in her environment. It turns out that there was a big problem.
Is That Another One?
It was already bad enough that Hauser was in this awkward situation with a whale. The last thing she wanted was to have to deal with another one that was also behaving oddly.
Unfortunately, that is what she got. A second whale was quickly approaching, and it was also doing something unusual. While it didn’t join the assault on her, it was consistently flipping its tail as it kept drawing closer.
There Seems to Be a Third Whale
Of course, Nan was even more perplexed than ever at what was happening. Now there were two whales behaving in ways she had never seen in her decades of studying them.
A look below revealed that there was something else on the way. Initially, she thought it was a third whale. Three in the same day? However, it wasn’t long before she noticed that it wasn’t one.
The Pack Traveling System
Seeing multiple whales wasn’t what alarmed Hauser. Her practice taught her that this was normal for the creatures. It was the erratic manner in which they were behaving that caught her off guard.
The whales are pack travelers. They travel in this way as they head to the South Pacific for breeding and calf nurturing. Nan knew this, which is why it was expected that there would be more than one.
There Was Something off about That Third One
Hauser made a desperate attempt to swim away from the initial whale that had decided to get close to her. However, things got a bit more shocking as she attempted to do so.
You see, humpback whales, like other whale species, move their tails up and down as they swim. The third creature that was approaching her, instead moved its tail side to side.
This Third Creature Was a Dangerous Problem
Nan didn’t earn all the respect she did the easy way. It took many years of focus and learning. That learning meant that she was able to recognize certain patterns under the water.
It was this insight that allowed her to realize the predicament she was now in. The problem is that the creature was too fast for her to escape. This was a huge crisis.
The Oceanic Assassin Joins the Fray
The third creature was a tiger shark. This was arguably the worst thing that could’ve shown up at this point. Hauser knew the kind of hot water she was in better than anyone else.
If you’ve ever watched any of those scary shark movies, you’ve probably heard that sharks aren’t like that in real life. It’s true that many sharks aren’t so violent and scary, but Tiger sharks are.
These Sharks Are Both Big and Powerful
Sharks are known to be very small in comparison to whales. So, it says a lot when an expert in marine life initially thinks that a shark is a whale. Tiger sharks are huge!
They are known to grow as long as 35 feet, and they can weigh almost a ton. They bite to kill, and they don’t just release victims. Nan was really facing a deadly possibility.
The Focus Shifted for Good Reason
Initially, Hauser was concerned about whale-related danger. The power the whales can generate meant that blunt force trauma was a huge cause for concern. Now things had gone downhill very quickly.
Now she was worried about something else. Unlike the whale, which could be a deadly problem, the shark was a definite problem. If it were to catch her, there would be no question that she’d be a goner.
She Made It
The situation seemed to be getting out of hand, but Nan and her cameraman managed to make it back to their boat alive. Considering what they were up against, that’s nothing short of a miracle.
Not many people find themselves in a Tiger shark’s sight and live to tell the tale. Even with all her marine experience, Nan could do nothing more than identify the creature and try to escape quickly.
The Details of What Happened Dawned on Her
While Hauser escaped the ordeal, she did not do so unharmed. There were no broken bones, but the whale’s nudges did a number on her body, and she could feel the bruises starting to form.
She laid on the boat floor and began to recall everything that just happened. With the danger gone and her head clear, Nan had an epiphany. She pieced together the whale’s incredible intention.
The Role of the Protector
Over the years, Nan learned that the humpback whales served as the sea’s protector. They may be big and powerful, but they would habitually use their strength for the good of smaller and weaker creatures.
These whales protect seals, dolphins, and even other whales from dire situations. They’ve even kept seals under their fins for protection against orcas. All this information allowed Hauser to realize what had really happened.
Reviewing the Tale-telling Footage
Thankfully, she didn’t only have to rely on her memory of the incident. Most of what happened was recorded, so all she needed to do was review the footage to see if she was correct.
It confirmed what she had thought. While she didn’t know if the shark was focused on her, the whale felt that she was in danger. It was doing nothing more than trying to rescue her.
The Whale Was Still Concerned
As she sat on the boat, while counting her lucky stars, she noticed that she could see the whale near her. Based on her experience, she made yet another judgment call on what she thought was happening.
Interestingly enough, the whale seemed to be showing signs of caring about her. It sprayed water from its blowhole, and it seemed to be ensuring that she was OK. It was a rare sight.
She Did a Full Analysis of the Situation
The interaction was nothing short of incredible, and it wasn’t anything that Hauser expected to see. She had to watch the footage again to give a proper final analysis of the bizarre interaction.
From what she could tell, there was no doubt that the whale wanted to save her life. She was still unable to tell whether the shark planned to eat her or not.
There Are Some Who Question Her Conclusion
Nan may be an expert, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t inclined to question her beliefs. That’s the nature of just about any scientific discipline that you can think of.
Other researchers don’t believe in her story as much as she does. Some of them began to analyze 115 different interactions between whales and hunting orcas in 2016. They wanted to determine a whale’s likelihood of acting this way.
What Did They Conclude?
Based on the study that was conducted, the researchers came to their own conclusion on the matter. They saw that the humpback whales were very protective of their calves, and they would band together to shield them.
The researchers also saw that the whales were keen on protecting other animals too, such as sea lions and seals. Even if the whale’s behavior was unintentional, Nan’s story was indeed a possibility.
There Were Still Unconvinced People
It’s almost impossible to convince everyone that such a phenomenon could’ve taken place. Therefore, there was still a group of people who couldn’t see why an animal would attempt to protect a human.
According to Norway’s Martin Biuw, who represented their Institute of Marine Research, the whale was likely a female. He stated that females might behave like this to humans after an ordeal, such as the loss of a calf.
Did Evidence to Support this Exist?
Martin pointed to hormonal changes that were known to happen in humpback whales. He believed the said changes could’ve been enough to trigger the creature to display such heroic characteristics.
Biuw stated that the possibility of hormonal motivation wasn’t enough to support altruistic behavior. He reviewed the footage that was presented, and it didn’t seem to be enough. He was unable to see any evidence of this in the video.
Another Opinion on the Matter
Biuw wasn’t the only one to present his sentiments on the extraordinary experience that Hauser had. Jim Darling, who was with the Whale Trust Maui, also shared his thoughts on the matter.
Darling agrees that there was no conclusive evidence to indicate that the whale was trying to protect Hauser. Even so, he didn’t think that her account was untrue. In his opinion, the video was not enough to conclude anything.
Nan Weighs in on the Doubts
Hauser was aware that there were people who did not believe her story. Though she had experienced all this, people were saying they couldn’t conclude in her favor.
She was very understanding of the reasons. As a scientist, she explained that she would also not believe the story if someone told her. The only reason that she is willing to believe that this happened was because she lived it.
She’s Still at It
After the incident, Nan returned to her normal activities. She remains an active marine biologist. She also made reference to a new project that she happened to have in the works.
The current project is called Pacific Oceanscape Vision. The idea is to ensure that the future of Pacific Island territories and countries were secure. This was to be achieved through conversation around and management of the ocean paired with sustainable development.
This Was an Unbelievable Occurrence That Was Filmed
There is no objective way to tell if the humpback whale was intentionally trying to save Hauser or not. Her ordeal is an incredible tale, but members of the scientific community aren’t sold.
One thing was certain though. It was a unique series of events to have caught on camera. It’s very unlikely for the world to see something like this again, so recording it was lucky.
She Showed Her Gratitude in Her Work
Before she had the encounter, her life’s work was about more than just researching the animals. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing what she could to ensure that the animals were protected.
After the ordeal, she continued to do just that. Protecting the whales from poachers and keeping their home preserved is a huge part of her job. The whales enjoy the benefits.
Nan’s Protection Helps Them to Stay Alive
Nan’s work impacts the life of the whales by keeping them safe when there are so many others who would do things that could hurt them. In 1998, the species was considered as endangered.
Thankfully, the population managed to recover well. Though the International Whaling Commission prohibits whaling, people still try to hunt them. That’s people like Nan come in, to ensure that the creatures stay safe.