Jeff Davis has flown many times over the Atlantic Ocean—he’s a pilot on international flights—but rarely does he see anything like the white swirl he captured off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

As Mashable reports, the pilot was flying from Amsterdam to the U.S. when he saw what he thought might be a hurricane—a spiral over the ocean. But he realized that he was not looking at clouds but at sea ice.

As the ice broke up, it was caught in an ocean current—likely the Labrador Current, which travels south along the Canadian coast. Davis snapped a few pictures and passed them to a meteorologist friend, who posted them on Facebook. A NASA satellite caught the ice swirl, too: 

 Ice swirl! (Photo: NASA

Mashable’s Andrew Freedman notes that eddies like this one “are actually quite common”—but it’s rarer that anyone’s looking down from 36,000 feet and happens to spot one floating through the ocean.

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