Polar bears swim up to Canadian researchers’ boat, gnaw on their equipment

Sometimes when people go out in the field to study nature, they find that nature wants to study them (or their equipment) right back.

This is what some researchers found when three curious polar bears approached their vessel out on the arctic Beaufort Sea this summer. The researchers were students and oceanographers from various Canadian universities doing research in order to better understand climate change. A cable that they use to take samples was extended into the water when three polar bears showed up and started doing some basic experiments of their own.

While such a sighting is generally breathtaking, it sent the researchers into a panic—especially when the bears started gnawing on equipment valued at over $200,000. In the video, they can be heard yelling at the bears to go away. After all, if the equipment had been damaged, their research expedition might have been ruined.

“It would have really damaged the potential for us to continue working on the expedition.” Jay Cullen, a chemical oceanographer with the University of Victoria, told the CBC. Fortunately, the animals left shortly after the video was taken, leaving the equipment undamaged.

The bears’ comfort in the water is truly remarkable, and they don’t seem aggressive—merely curious. It’s an amazing look at a highly adapted animal in its natural habitat.

The research expedition, known as Geotraces 2015, keeps a blog and documents events like polar bear sightings. You can check it out on their website.