CBS Local — A marine biologist in the South Pacific is thanking a massive humpback whale for shielding her from an oncoming shark. Amazingly, the diver was able to capture some of the underwater rescue on film.

Nan Hauser and her team were snorkeling near the Cook Islands in October when she filmed the 50,000-pound whale using its head to push the 63-year-old out of the path of the tiger shark.

“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,” Hauser told the Mirror.

“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,” the biologist from Maine added.

Not seen in the film, the humpback reportedly hid Hauser under its fin until the 15-foot-long shark left the area. The team adds that the giant mammals have a natural instinct to protect smaller creatures from ocean predators.

“We know these creatures are altruistic… We know they hide seals under pectoral fins to protect them,” Hauser explained to the Portland Press Herald.

The veteran diver says it was clear that the whale was trying to communicate with her during the rescue. Hauser was taped communicating her feelings to the whale after it took her back towards the team’s boat.

The 63-year-old screamed “I love you!” as the humpback swam off.

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