A fishing party had a close encounter with a cougar that went for a swim near Tahsis, B.C., and the video of the swim has since created a sensation on YouTube.

The 48-second video shot on July 14 shows the big, healthy-looking cat swimming in deep water, on his way from one island to another in Nootka Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Todd Culos, who grew up in Powell River, B.C., but now lives in Seattle, saw the big cat first. He says he disagreed with his father, brother and fishing guide, who tried to convince him at first that it was a sea otter.

"I thought I saw some ears, and it looked like it was doing a doggie-paddle," he said. "We turned around and there it was, in the middle of the inlet, swimming."

"It looked like he was trying to get up in the boat," Culos said. "I think he was just more wanting us to get out of his way."

Nootka Sound, B.C.

The swim, across about 500 metres, lasted just a few minutes.

"He just popped up on the bank on the other side, gave us a little look, stood there and then slowly went off in the bush," Culos said.

Culos says the encounter was exciting, especially for his dad.

"Well, my father was sort of freaking out. I think we were a little braver than we would be if we saw him running around on a trail."

Culos says he had a great B.C. fishing trip, but all that his friends want to talk about is the big cat that went to sea.

With files from the CBC's Terry Donnelly