Sharp knife, quick thinking

Local lobstermen rescue entangled seal off Matinicus Rock

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 4:30pm

    MATINICUS ROCK —  On Friday, July 14, two lobstermen had the opportunity to save a life while fishing offshore. Jeremy Willey, 37, of Owls Head, was at the helm of his boat, F/V Miss Jodi, when his sternman, Jeffrey Dorr, Jr., 36, of Union, spotted a strange mass floating atop the water. The green mass, it turned out, was a seal wrapped in fishing net. The men pulled the seal aboard the boat and Willey set to work cutting it free during the course of just under three minutes. The rescue is shown on a video taken by Dorr that has now reached nearly 400,000 views on Facebook.

    “They were 10 to 12 miles below Matinicus Rock when they spotted something floating,” said Krystal Gamage, 35, Willey’s significant other, and the woman who originally posted the now viral video to Facebook, “they realized it was a seal, and they pulled him aboard and were able to safely cut him free.” 

    Gamage, originally of Thomaston, and now a resident of Charleston, S.C., said that since posting the video on July 16, they have received inquiries from national publications including ABC news and National Geographic.

    “It’s just crazy,” she said, with a laugh.

    Willey is a fourth generation lobsterman fishing out of Owls Head, and was approximately 25 miles offshore when the incident occurred. His quick thinking and ability to calm the seal allowed him to expediently remove the rope with his knife. He can be heard commenting that each time he cut a piece of the entangled netting, the seal seamed to relax a bit.

    Gamage said that Willey and Dorr believed the seal was a pup, as it weighed approximately 20 to 25 pounds. At the end of the video, Willey can be seen smiling as he holds the seal for a moment before releasing him. The young seal can be seen swimming away, looking back momentarily before diving under.

    “The seal swam away just fine,” Willey said.

    Jenna Lookner can be reached at