Whale, whale, whale, what do we have deer?
A group of whale watchers spotted an unlikely sea visitor swimming alongside a killer whale during an outing off the coast of Washington state Sunday.
As a whale named Cooper breached the water’s surface showing off its dorsal, the tiny head of a deer poked out of the ocean as it swam near Battleship Island in the San Juan Archipelago, a photo captured by one of the onlookers shows.
“At Battleship Island, we met up with a lone male Cooper the killer whale,” the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) wrote of the sighting in a daily report. “We didn’t realize it at the time, but our photos revealed he swam right past a black-tailed deer!!! What are the odds of that?”
The unlikely pairing was captured by team members aboard an Island Adventures Whale Watching boat.
The photographer, Sam Murphy, told FOX Weather that the whale officially IDed as T124C swam right on by the land-dweller and showed no interest in the animal — which has much lower fat content than its typical diet of blubbery seals and sea lions in the region.
Still, the deer likely was just as shocked to see the whale.
“Would probably be intimidating for the deer, though, I’m sure,” executive director of PWWA Erin Gless told the station.
It’s not unusual for deer to take a dip in the ocean or other bodies of water.
The mammals are strong swimmers who can reach speeds of around 15 mph and travel several miles through water, according to WorldDeer.org.
However, seeing one swim right by an orca was a first for PWWA staffers.
Whale sightings, on the other hand, are routine and have increased in recent years as the ocean has gotten cleaner and more seals and sea lions are available for them to feed on.
Nearly 400 killer whales call the waters off Washington and British Columbia home, according to the PWWA.
Last year alone, there were more than 35,000 sightings of whales and other marine wildlife reported to the organization by professional whale watchers and other experts.