Mike Polocz was fishing the the upper Kenai River with two buddies when they spotted a young cub grizzly attempting to swim across the current. While the mother bear watched from the bank, the cub got caught in a whirlpool and was sent spiraling in the river unable to reach the shore.

Polocz and his buddies paddled into the whirlpool to try to help the bear. At first they tried to pull it to safety with a net. When that failed, they pushed the bear out into the current and away from the whirlpool.

The video cuts out and doesn’t show the full rescue, but according to Polocz, the bear drifted down stream and eventually made it to the bank and its mother.

“I couldn’t watch this defenseless animal suffer,” Polocz told the Anchorage Daily News. “I was ready to go in after it if it went under.”