Whale Won’t Leave Her Alone, Then She Sees Why



Pushed underwater by a 50,000-pound force, she was buffeted about like a cork on the sea. The whale’s nudges became more urgent as her colleagues watched in horror from the boat.

For those terrible 20 minutes, Nan was helpless and completely at the giant creature’s mercy as he tumbled her over and over. But the reason for the whale’s behavior was about to make Nan’s situation so much worse.


Nan Hauser



As a young girl, Nan Hauser had always dreamed of working in the water with dolphins and whales. But her terrible seasickness and fear of the ocean made her career in marine biology seem very unlikely.

When she turned thirteen, she saw the video of a dolphin culling that changed everything. Instead of worrying about popularity like other girls her age, she made a dramatic decision that would change her life.

Leap Of Faith


Like so many people do, Nan put her dreams aside. Instead of pursuing marine biology, she chose a more practical career path — she would go to college and become a nurse. But, although Nan found immense fulfillment in helping people, she just couldn’t shake the inexorable call of the sea.

When Nan was in her thirties, she took a leap of faith. Now, she researches whales and dolphins in the Bahamas. She has been monitoring them for 28 years. But nothing could have prepared her for one unforgettable encounter.

The Fateful Dive



The dive started out just like any other. Nan anchored the boat and lowered herself into Cook Island’s sea. As she prepared to descend into the dark depths, a shadow in the distance started to approach; fast.

Her heart stopped as the shadow morphed into the silhouette of a whale. Little did she know, there was a possibility that she would be filming her own demise.

A Giant Humpback

Public Domain

Nan preferred the sea to dry land. She never felt at home on solid ground. She was her best self surrounded by marine wildlife, so she was no stranger to sea mammals.

This particular humpback weighed about 50,000 pounds. Nan had spent her life dedicated to creatures of the deep, but in all her studies, she had never encountered the shy humpbacks in person before. As if this one’s presence didn’t shock her enough, what followed was unforgettable.

The No-Contact Rule



Nan is an avid believer in not interacting with any animal in the wild. She has openly written about whale harassment and only initiates contact with the whales she studies if they are sick or beached.

She has educated the world throughout the years but this hatchback whale seemed determined to throw all her studies out the window. The whale greeted Nan by nudging her up and onto his head. Only armed with her camera and diving equipment, Nan began to document their meeting. But her studies never prepared her for this.

Strange Behavior

Youtube/National Geographic


The whale began to thrash around before her, rolling and gliding through the water. Then, he began to nudge her. Accompanied by a filmmaker, 63-year-old Nan found herself frozen by the beast’s peculiar behavior.

It pushed her along the surface of the water with its head before rising for a breath, along with Hauser. The whale continued to follow her and for the first time since she was a child, she was afraid.

Alarm Bells

YouTube/National Geographic


Nan attempted to remain calm. Although she was buffeted around with a gaping mouth that could swallow her whole, she went into survival mode. She thought of one single thing that could keep her alive—eye contact.

Highly sociable animals like whales and canines use eye contact to establish or challenge dominance. Up against a giant, this single response was all she could think of. But that didn’t stop this beast from pushing her further from her crew, and the boat.

Growing Frightened

YouTube/National Geographic


On multiple occasions, Nan attempted to get back to her vessel. But on each attempt, she was interrupted by the humpback. The seed of fear began to sprout.

Her crewmembers, originally filming for a documentary, waited anxiously, fearing they would capture the end of a legend. Nan was as far from her comfort zone as she could be. But something else was keeping an eye on her.

A Dark Shape

YouTube/National Geographic


Just as a second whale appeared out of nowhere, slapping its tail along the surface of the water, Nan spun around. One whale acting peculiar was rare enough. Similar behavior in a second was even more troubling.

A third figure began to take shape in the distance. But this dark shadow didn’t bob up and down like the humpbacks. This menacing monster swayed from side to side—a horrifying characteristic of one particular sea creature.

Fearsome Predator

Pexels/Elianne Dipp

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.

Tiger Shark

YouTube/National Geographic


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.

No Escape


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.

No Explanation


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?

Getting Darker

Public Domain

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

Public Domain

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.

Something 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


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.

The Filmmaker

Public Domain

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.

More Help


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.

Pushed Them


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.

Almost Free


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.


YouTube/National Geographic


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

Alisa Schulman-Janiger

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.


YouTube/National Geographic


Nan has admitted her own awe and wonder regarding the encounter, “I’m a scientist, and if anyone told me this story, I wouldn’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.