Humpback whales can be more than 50 feet long and weigh over 80,000 pounds. Like all cetaceans, Humpbacks are highly intelligent and have a complex social structure rivaling our own.
Like most whales, Humpbacks possess much (oil, blubber, meat) that can entice humans. So how have we responded to them over the years?
People are clever and rapacious in their view of the Earth's resources. So naturally, we hunted Humpback whales to the brink of extinction.
Fortunately, some forward-thinking people saw the big picture, and in 1966 a moratorium on hunting most Humpbacks was put in place. In the decades since, the Humpback whale population has recovered somewhat.
Although Humpback hunting is still largely banned, the whales still suffer from the effects of humans. Their habitats are threatened. They get hit and killed by ships. They get tangled in fishing nets. They suffer from human-caused noise and chemical pollution.
With that history and the ongoing stress we cause them, how do Humpback whales respond to us?
With caring and benign interaction.
Recently, Nan Hauser, a marine biologist in the Pacific Ocean's Cook Islands, described a Humpback whale pushing her away from a Tiger Shark. A Humpback could of course kill a person with a tiny flick of its tail. But like most whales around humans, this Humpback was gentle, even putting its fin over the diver in a protective way.
The video doesn't show the shark. But it does show how a monstrous whale came in contact with a diver and took great care to be gentle with the human.
Check it out: