A naturalist captured an unexpected encounter in the San Juan Islands this weekend.
Sam Murphy, a naturalist with Island Adventures Whale Watching, was photographing an orca swimming near the Canada-United States border on Sunday when she captured a strange sight.
Murphy had spotted a whale called T124C, also known as Cooper, swimming near Battleship Island, a small island of the northern tip of Washington's San Juan Island. But it turns out he wasn't alone.
It wasn't until Murphy got home and was reviewing her images that she noticed Cooper swimming by a deer with its head bobbing out of the water.
"The whale didn't show any interest,” said Erin Gless, executive director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association.
She noted that Cooper is a male Bigg's killer whale born in 1992.
"There likely isn't enough meat or fat on this deer's bones to tempt the local Bigg's killer whales, who are used to feasting on chunky seals and sea lions," she said.
Orcas are very aware of the surroundings, according to Gless, who believes the orca knew the deer was there, just didn't care.
“Looking at the deer's face, it seems to be thinking 'just be cool,’ ” she said.