It can be a lonely job — pulling lobster traps — way out in the middle of the Gulf of Maine. But for 15 years, Captain John Makowsky had company — a faithful companion. In fact, he says maybe a little too faithful.

“She comes right up to the window and looking at me this far away,” said Makowsky, as he puts his hand to his face and starts laughing. “Just staring at me.”

Makowsky’s stalker “gull-friend,” who he named Red Eye, showed up one day in 2005 and basically never left, until a few months ago when Red Eye suffered a leg injury. He knew a seagull couldn’t live long like that.

“How hard was it for him?” CBS News asked Makowsky’s wife, Debbie.

“Oh, very, very difficult,” she responded. “To watch John and see how sad he was. I could tear up right now.”

“I don’t know why I was so emotionally crushed, but it was a piece missing. I was beginning to wonder how much longer I felt like doing this,” John said.

A seagull known as Red Eye is seen out at sea.

CBS News

So in an attempt to save his passion for the sea, he tried to save that seagull. He actually caught her and brought her to the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick, Maine. The staff nursed Red Eye while John spoiled her with Brown Hake — her favorite kind of fish.

And would you believe just a few weeks later, Red Eye was good as new. Earlier this month, John released the bird back into the wild. Of course, “the wild” was never really Red Eye’s thing, which is why, still today, no matter where John is in this great ocean, Red Eye somehow finds him. 

For centuries, boat captains have believed seagulls carry the souls of lost sailors. And for this fourth-generation lobsterman, that is a comforting thought; that maybe Red Eye is an ancestor looking out for him.

But John says it’s more about something far less mystical. It’s about the purpose that is found whenever one living creature truly needs another.


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