Swimming with whales is a pretty sweet job, and for whale biologist Nan Hauser it’s just a day in the life. But a video surfaced of something utterly out of the ordinary — a whale saved her from a shark. As in, Hauser was protected by the very creature that she works so hard to protect.
As Hauser was snorkeling for research in the Cook Islands, she was approached by a 15-foot tiger shark. The 50,000 pound humpback whale she was swimming with sensed the danger and tucked Hauser under his fin, shielding her from the shark and even lifting her out of the water at one point. Hauser also later told the U.K. paper The Mirror that there was another whale out of the shot slapping the water with its tail to divert the shark.
The incident occurred back in October, and Hauser said that initially she didn’t realize a shark was in her vicinity and thought it was another whale coming to play. She said being rescued by the 63-year-old humpback was like being saved by a fireman willing to sacrifice his life by running into a burning house.
Hauser says this is proof that whales are naturally intuitive, a fact that she has longed to capture on film in her 28 years as a whale biologist. Not only that, but she also told The Mirror that they’re willing to risk their lives for other species. Thankfully, Hauser can now continue to protect the animals that literally have her back.