Biologist says video exhibits whale shielding her from a shark

Whale saves snorkeler from shark

Humpback whale protects unsuspecting diver from tiger shark

The video was shot while she was snorkeling for research in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.

The giant whale tucked the 63-year-old, under its pectoral fin and pushed her along with his head and mouth for around 10 minutes, she said.

Hauser was unsure of the reasoning behind the whale's behavior and was anxious that she might get injured but made it safely to the boat where she realized that they were also joined by a tiger shark.

Whales are known to be intelligent marine creatures, but a stunning new clip of a humpback whale apparently saving a diver from a shark shows how these creatures could display their extraordinary instinct to protect, even in the most unlikely scenarios.

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She later realised that the 15-foot tiger shark was nearby, that the whale was steering her away from.

Was this humpback whale really trying to save a diver's life? In nearly three decades of studying whales, Ms Hauser she said she had never witnessed such behaviour.

She added: "If he held me under his pectoral fin, I would have drowned".

She added: "I didn't want to panic, because I knew that he would pick up on my fear".

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Hauser has dedicated her life to studying marine life around the Cook Islands where she lives, including the humpback whale population that moves through the area. "I stayed calm to a point but was sure that it was most likely going to be a deadly encounter", she continues.

The Brunswick resident said she was oblivious to the shark during the tense, 10-minute encounter.

Hauser says whales are "altruistic" and often hide seals from predators, but she has never experienced or read about anything like this before.

The biologist now hopes to share the footage that she and her team were able to capture, in order to expand research and awareness of such actions from whales.

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Given the past evidences of humpback whales' possibly protective and altruistic behavior, it's possible that it was knowingly protecting Hauser, but others are questioning whether the act was purely altruistic or something different altogether. "They truly display altruism - sometimes at the risk of losing their own lives". According to him, as the whale appears to be a female, it's possible that she may have recently lost a calf and was protective of the human as a result of the hormonal changes. "If someone told me the story, I wouldn't believe it", she said. "In my head, I was a bit amused since I write Rules and Regulations about whale harassment - and here I was being harassed by a whale".

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