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Marine biologist says whale saved her from shark, Youtube users are skeptical

12 January 2018

A video has captured an unbelievable moment od a giant whale pushing a snorkeller to rescue her from an attack by a large tiger shark near the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.

The whale biologist told the Daily Mirror that she believes the moment in September reveals the whale's intuitive instinct to protect another species of animal.

Nan Hauser said she didn't understand the actions of the 25-ton whale that she met face-to-face in the Cook Islands.

According to her, the whale pushed her with his head and mouth, tucked her under its giant pectoral fin for around 10 minutes and even lifted her out of the water on one occasion.

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Hauser, the president and director of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation, captured the video during a dive in the Cook Islands back in October. Throughout the video, you can see the whale tucking the snorkeler under his pectoral fin and pushing Hauser with his massive head. Stay on top of breaking news stories with the ABC11 News AppIt wasn't until later that the film crew told her what happened - a shark was in the area.

The biologist also says that if the whale kept approaching her, she was afraid that its speed and weight would break her bones and rupture her organs. "I've spent the past 28 years protecting whales, and in the moment, I didn't even realize that they were protecting me!" I was a bit bruised up.

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For over 10 minutes, Hauser said, she was focused on the whale, unaware of the shark nearby.

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Hauser says that the encounter could be evidence that whales are altruistic animals that feel compelled to save smaller creatures. "There's really no way of knowing the whale's motivation".

James Sulikowski, a marine biologist and professor at the University of New England who has studied tiger sharks, said he's not convinced that the whale saved her life.

Her research companions turned off an underwater video drone, fearing she was going to be mauled to death.

They have been known to save seals from killer whales by hiding them under their fins. "They truly display altruism - sometimes at the risk of losing their own lives".

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Marine biologist says whale saved her from shark, Youtube users are skeptical