Incredible moment giant humpback whale 'protects diver' from circling shark

Incredible moment giant humpback whale 'protects diver' from circling shark

It's no secret that sharks are apex predators (aka they sit at the top of the food chain), but actual shark attacks on humans are rarer than the movies would have you believe.

According to the International Shark Attack File, there were just 2,785 unprovoked attacks on people between 1958 and 2016 - with just 439 of those being fatal.

However, if you happen to be unlucky enough to encounter a shark, you could end up with an unlikely savior.

Case in point, this 50,000-pound humpback whale that "protected" a diver from a potential attack from a nearby tiger shark: 

In the clip, diver Nan Hauser, 63, a biologist, can be seen swimming close to the whale, which deliberately moves its gigantic body as close as possible to her.

"I wasn't sure what the whale was up to when he approached me, and it didn't stop pushing me around for over 10 minutes. It seemed like hours. I was a bit bruised up," she said to Caters News.

"I've spent 28 years underwater with whales, and have never had a whale so tactile and so insistent on putting me on his head, or belly, or back, or, most of all, trying to tuck me under his huge pectoral fin."

Credit: Caters / Screenshot

"I never took my eyes off him which is why I didn't see the shark right away," the 63-year-old went on to reveal.

When she emerges from the water in the clip, Hauser shouts: "There's a great big tiger shark over there!"

Credit: Caters / Screenshot

When she saw the 15-foot shark, Caters News reported, she assumed that it was a whale. However, after noticing that its tail wasn't moving up and down like a whale's, but side to side, Hauser realized it was a shark.

Grateful, once she climbed onto an awaiting boat, she proclaimed her love for the animal, saying: "I love you!"

Credit: Caters

While there are many documented cases of dolphins protecting humans from predators, this is the first time that such altruistic behavior has been recorded in whales.

"There is a published scientific paper about humpbacks protecting other species of animals, by Robert Pitman," Hauser said to Caters News.

"For instance, they hide seals under their pectoral fins to protect them from killer whales.

"They truly display altruism - sometimes at the risk of losing their own lives.

"It's funny how the tables are turned here: I've spent the past 28 years protecting whales, and in the moment, I didn't even realize that they were protecting me!"