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Old 08-01-2017, 07:42 PM
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Default Maine lobstermen rescue swimming bald eagle that is on the verge of drowning

Video clips at the link.

PHOENIX — Lobstermen have many strange encounters during their time at sea.

This memorable account in Maine, however, is one for the books.

Lobsterman John Chipman and his sternman Kevin Meaney lent a helping hand to one of the country’s most cherished animals — a bald eagle.

The national bird of the United States symbolizes unlimited freedom, but a wildlife biologist who serves as Maine’s bird group leader says this particular eagle was on the brink of drowning.

“I knew it wasn’t going to make it,” said Chipman. “The way he was acting, I knew he wanted help.”

'We're not leaving him'
The lobsterman said he had never seen a bald eagle swimming in the Atlantic Ocean throughout his 45 years at sea, according to Bangor Daily News. That changed last week when he spotted the water-logged bird struggling in the water off Schoodic Island.

In the video, the eagle uses both wings to labor through the water. At one point, the bird becomes too tired and starts to float.
“I told Johnny, ‘We’re not leaving him,’ ” said Meaney, a veteran and retired police officer.

Meaney and another retired officer, Michelle Ritzema, made a makeshift raft from a bait tank cover, a life preserver and some rope. The eagle hopped aboard the raft and was reeled onto the boat.

“I kind of reached down, patted the top of his head and told him it would be alright,” Meaney told Daily News. “ He just looked at me and never moved.”

Pride, integrity and honor
Brad Allen, of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, told the Daily News that the eagle likely ended up in the water after trying to catch a fish.

The bird showed signs of past troubles, with only one eye. Chipman intended on taking the eagle to game wardens for rehabilitation, but the bird had plans of its own. After drying off, it took flight again.

“It was the most incredible thing that ever happened to me,” Meaney told Daily News. “To me, that was worth well more than hitting the lottery.”

Chipman’s wife, Theresa, took to Instagram to describe the sternman who went above and beyond for the bird: “As a veteran and an American, the eagle signifies pride, integrity and honor and (Kevin) considers it a privilege to have assisted our national symbol in its time of need.”

Others wanted the lobstermen to know that they appreciate their patriotic act.
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