It's very rare that visitors can be found at the Hibernia oil platform, but a four-legged guest was all the talk Monday.

Crew aboard the offshore supply vessel Atlantic Merlin got quite the surprise early Monday when they spotted a polar bear in the water not far from Hibernia.

The massive oil platform is located in the Atlantic Ocean some 315 kilometres east-southeast of St. John's.

Sources say the bear was swimming far from any sea ice. It attempted to climb aboard the 600,000-tonne gravity base structure.

Margot Bruce-O'Connell, spokesperson for Hibernia's majority owner ExxonMobil Canada, said one and possibly two bears were spotted in the area near Hibernia and the West Aquarius drill rig over the past few days.

Federal and provincial authorities have been notified, Bruce-O'Connell said. 

Recent studies have shown that polar bears can swim distances of several hundred kilometres.