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Maine biologist recalls life-changing encounter with whale that saved her from a shark

The diver was swimming in the South Pacific, and caught most of the encounter on camera. (Nan Houser/Dick Harrewijn)

PORTLAND (WGME) – A marine biologist from Maine believes a whale saved her from a shark.

The diver was swimming in the South Pacific, and caught most of the encounter on camera.

It really was a once in a lifetime experience.

Biologist and Mainer Nan Houser says she's been swimming and studying whales for years, and while she's filmed many of her underwater experiences, this moment was one she couldn't keep to herself, and now it's going viral.

Houser says she knew something wasn't right once she was lifted over the head of the whale.

She says just a few minutes felt like hours.

Houser was swimming near the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, and while she was face to face with a 25-ton humpback whale that many know can kill, the mammal, she believes, was saving her from a nearby tiger shark.

She says she tried to stay as calm as possible, but couldn’t help but think her last minutes might be in the ocean.

"I always sort of felt that my death might be with a whale,” Houser said. “I mean I've had some pretty close encounters before, but nothing like this. I mean this whale, for 10 and a half minutes, lifted me up on his head and spun me around, and I was on his chin and I was on his pectoral fin down his back, cross his tail, because he wouldn't let me go."

The video was just posted on YouTube Monday, but occurred in September.

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