Four people on a Vancouver Island fishing trip got an unusual visitor when they spotted a cougar swimming right up to their boat in Nootka Sound.

The 48-second YouTube video shows the animal swimming towards the boat in quaint waters near the island village of Tahsis. One person reaches their hand out to the animal and takes a picture before the video ends.

"Everyone figured it was probably an otter, but I thought I saw ears and that it was doing a doggy-paddle," Todd Culos, who posted the video to YouTube, told The Toronto Star.

Fishing guide Graham Nielsen, who operates Nielsen's Lodge in Tahsis, was taking three fishing guests back after catching four halibut and three salmon when they spotted the animal, The Times-Colonist reported.

"I have no doubt it would have tried to climb onto the motor pod, given an opportunity," Nielsen said.

It's rare that people spot a cougar swimming but Parks Canada officer Danielle Thompson said the behaviour is completely normal. She said cougars are "great swimmers" and that they'll often move between islands searching for prey.

Thompson doesn't think that cougars pose a threat to swimmers and boaters, but she also said that jumping into the water to escape the animas is not a good idea.

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