By Ashleigh / Nov 15, 2022
Being pushed underwater is bad enough but being pushed underwater by a 50,000-pound force had her feeling like a cork adrift at sea. Her worried colleagues watched on, horrified by the sight of a whale urgently nudging at her.
For a terrible 20 minutes, Nan was completely helpless and at the mercy of the giant creature who was tumbling her around. However, all was not as it seemed. The real reason for the whale’s behavior was much worse than she ever could’ve predicted.
Dreaming Of Marine Biology
When she was a young girl, Nan Hauser dreamed of working in the water. She always wanted to work with dolphins and whales, but she had terrible seasickness and a fear of the ocean. So her dream career as a marine biologist seemed to out of the question.
However, when Nan turned thirteen, a video of a dolphin culling changed everything. She didn’t worry about popularity or any of the other things that concerned girls her age. Instead, she made a decision that would change her life.
Like most people out there, Nan decided to abandon her dream. Instead of pushing forth to study marine biology, she went to college and became a nurse. The more practical career path did offer her immense fulfillment, but Nan couldn’t get rid of her yearning for the ocean.
While in her thirties, Nan decided to take a leap of faith. She changed her career. For the last 28 years, she has been researching and monitoring whales and dolphins in the Bahamas. Yet none of her experience could have prepared her for this unforgettable encounter.
Just Another Dive
Her dive started out like any other dive she’s ever been on. They anchored the boat, and Nan lowered herself into the vast waters of the Cook Island Sea. But as she prepared to descend into the dark depths of the ocean, a shadowy creature approached, and it was coming in fast.
At first, her heart was slamming in her chest, but as the shadow morphed into a silhouette of a whale, it stopped altogether. Nan couldn’t begin to imagine that she was possibly filming her own demise.
A Humpback Whale
Since she started her new career, Nan preferred the feel of the ocean to dry land. She just didn’t feel at home on solid ground, and she was in her element when she was surrounded by marine life. So she was no stranger to the mammals of the ocean.
The shadow was that of a humpback whale that weighed approximately 50,000 pounds. Even though Nan had dedicated her life to the creatures of the ocean she had never encountered one of the shy creatures. Being so close to one was a shock on its own but what happened next would stay with her for years to come.
No-Contact With The Whales
Nan firmly believes that humans shouldn’t interact with any animals in the wild. She has openly written about it and only has only ever touched whales that were sick or beached.
Over the years she has educated the world about these creatures, but that particular humpback was determined to throw all of her work right out the window. When the whale encountered Nan he greeted her by nudging her up onto his head. At the time she had nothing more than her camera so she began documenting the encounter. But nothing could’ve prepared her for what happened next.
The whale began flailing around her. It was rolling and gliding through the water. Suddenly it started nudging her. Even though Nan was accompanied by her filmmaker, the 63-year-old found herself frozen by the whale’s odd behavior.
It used its head to push her along the surface before the two of them rose for a breath. She tried to swim away, but the whale followed her wherever she went. For the first time since her childhood, Nan was afraid.
Making Eye Contact
Nan tried her best to stay calm, but she was being pushed around by a mouth so large it could swallow her whole, and her body went into survival mode. Only one thing could keep her alive, and she knew she had to maintain eye contact with the whale.
In nature, highly social animals like wolves and whales use eye contact as a means to establish dominance to challenge one another for dominance. Nan was up against a giant, and it was the only thing she could think of at the time. But that didn’t stop the majestic creature from pushing her deeper into the ocean- away from her boat and crew.
Nan tried to get back to the boat multiple times but on each attempt, the whale interfered, and her fear started growing.
The crewmembers that initially came along to film a documentary were anxiously waiting on the boat, fearing they would film the end of a legend. Nan had never been that far from her comfort zone before. She didn’t know that something else was keeping an eye on her from the dark depths.
A Bigger Threat
Suddenly a second whale appeared out of nowhere and it started slapping its tail along the surface of the water. Nan spun around to see what was happening. One whale acting strange was unexpected enough but having a second doing the same meant trouble.
Off in the distance, Nan saw a third shadow taking shape, but it didn’t act like the humpbacks did. Instead of bobbing up and down, this menacing creature swayed from side to side. It was a terrifying characteristic of one dangerous ocean predator.
Nan couldn’t deny the truth. As a marine expert, she knew the shape of a shark when she saw one. But this wasn’t your average shark.
This was the second deadliest sea animal to attack humans and a common nightmare among surfers and divers alike. And the oceanic predator was coming straight for her at speed.
The tiger shark is one of the most feared animals for swimmers and aquatic life. Weighing up to a ton and spanning up to 25 feet long, this ruthless hunter is notorious for its determination.
Unlike other sharks that take just a taster bite before abandoning their victim, the tiger shark will continue to attack the same prey until the bitter end. Nan swam with more force than she ever had before. But the whale continued to block her.
Nan knew she was in a dire situation. The tiger shark tried getting closer, but that’s when the whale went ballistic. It seemed panicked and immediately darted away from the boat dragging her with it.
Nan was pinned against the whale’s body as it swam further out from the boat. It took all of her strength just to stay conscious.
Dozens of thoughts raced through Nan’s mind. She couldn’t think of an explanation as to why things happened the way they were.
She chalked it up to the whale, trying to get away from the tiger shark at all costs. The predators were feared even by the biggest marine animals. But would Nan suffer the price of this animal’s decision to flee?
Nan felt her vision start to go dark as the whale accelerated with immense speed. The G-force on her body was more than she had ever felt before. She laughed to herself that it was probably how most fighter pilots felt.
She used humor to bear through the pain and the situation she was in. But all jokes aside, she was in serious trouble.
Didn’t Blame The Whale
Nan started to think that this would be the end for her. She was glad that it would at least be doing what she loved. She didn’t blame the whale for what was happening since it didn’t know better.
She put both her hands on the whale and hugged tightly to it. But that’s when everything changed.
It was instantaneous. As soon as Nan hugged tightly to the creature did, it immediately change direction. It went from a furious descent to a gentler ascent towards the light of the surface.
Nan was confused. Did the animal not realize she was there the whole time? And where was the tiger shark?
Back To The Surface
The animal glided through the waters and breached the surface of the water. Nan no longer felt the pressure from the crushing depths and could breathe again.
She took a moment to recover before remembering the hazard that had started the whole endeavor. She looked around, panicked. Where was it?
Where Was The Shark?
Now that Nan was out of immediate danger, her thought went back to the original threat. Where was the tiger shark? She looked nervously down into the water before feeling dread creep over her.
She couldn’t see anything. There was no dark shape in the water anymore. All she could think of was where it could be. Was it a good thing or a bad thing?
The Next Question In Her Mind
Now that the shark wasn’t anywhere close to her, she started to wonder where her cameraman was. She hadn’t seen him since she was dragged away by the whale.
She looked around for the cameraman and the boat. She saw that the boat was 20 feet from her. She was far from out of danger just yet. She’d have to find the filmmaker and get them to the boat.
The whale was still nearby but didn’t seem to be ready to make any moves against her again. She was grateful for not having to worry about the whale or the shark for now, but things could still take a turn.
That’s when the whale suddenly dived below the surface for what felt like ages. What was it doing?
Looking For Something
Nan was in a panicked state. But after waiting a few minutes, she saw the dark object stirring in the deep. It was as if the whale was searching for something. But what could it have been?
But then the whale started coming to the surface quickly. She felt the current around shift as the whale displaced massive amounts of water.
Bringing Something Up
The whale was clearly bringing something up to the surface, but Nan wasn’t sure what it was. She waited with bated breath as the creature breached the surface. She saw that the whale had brought something up with it.
But her eyes grew wide when she saw what it was. She frantically swam in their direction.
It was the filmmaker who had been brought to the surface by the whale. They seemed unconscious, which is normally a death sentence at sea. Nan swam over to them and checked their pulse.
They were still breathing, but she’d have to get to the boat so she could try and treat them properly. That’s when things took a drastic turn.
It was clear that the whale was on their side. Not only did it save Nan from the tiger shark, but it also rescued the filmmaker from the depths of the ocean.
And it wasn’t done helping. It seemed to understand the severity of the situation and prepared itself behind Nan and her companion in critical condition. But she could never have expected it to do something so drastic.
The whale positioned itself behind them and started to push them toward the boat. The jolt seemed to wake the cameraman up, who was shocked to see where they found themselves.
Nan was just relieved to see that they were okay. Now they just had to get to the boat and leave the ocean behind for the time being.
After a few minutes, they reached the boat. But the whale was pinning them just like before. It was a struggle to get free of the big animal. She knew it only intended to help but with its size. It was difficult.
They got ready to push against the whale so they could finally be free. It would take some effort, but they had to.
Nan finally broke free, and she and her cameraman pushed every muscle of their bodies as they made their way back to the vessel, glancing over their shoulders constantly.
She took a deep breath as her hand hit the solid boat. Arms and legs flailed as the crew dragged them from likely peril. Nan lay on her back, staring at the blue sky. Was she dreaming? Because something just didn’t add up.
The Whale’s Motive
Like elephants, humpback whales tend to stick together and even protect one another’s young. But protecting humans seemed unfathomable, especially as they were poached to near extinction just 45 years ago.
Thanks to people like Nan, who have dedicated their lives to protecting these animals, humpbacks may soon be removed from the federal endangered species list. But one question remains.
Nan has admitted her own awe and wonder regarding the encounter, “I’m a scientist, and if anyone told me this story, I couldn’t believe it.” Her encounter has gone viral, leaving scientists around the world speechless.
She hopes the video will continue to spread awareness regarding the complexity of these mysterious creatures. The humpback whale had been trying to warn her about the shark.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.