WATCH: 'Swimming’ bald eagle rescued by Maine lobstermen

Two Maine lobstermen out on the job dragged in an unusual catch last week -- a swimming bald eagle struggling to stay afloat off the Maine coast.

Video shows the bird, wings spread atop the water, trying to keep its head above the surface. John Chipman Jr. told the Bangor News that he and fellow crew member Kevin Meaney aboard the "Theresa Anne" spotted the eagle doing a version of the butterfly stroke.

“I knew it wasn’t going to make it,” Chipman said. “It wasn’t really a long way from land, but for him to swim that far? It would have been a long way for him to go.”

READ: Miami Valley local news

The men saw the bird was swimming pretty steadily, but kept faltering. They tried to use the boat to steer the eagle toward land, but the men could see the big bird was quickly tiring.

The boatmen made a crude raft out of a bait tank and a life ring and coaxed the bird aboard. Meaney, a retired police officer from Michigan, had welcomed aboard his former partner, Michelle Ritzema, earlier that day.

“Michelle grabbed onto my belt so I wouldn’t go overboard, and I picked up the whole raft, with him on it,” Meaney said. “He just looked at me and never moved.”

The eagle stayed on the raft for about 40 minutes, drying off, before flying away.

Brad Allen, with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said the bald eagle probably came into contact with the water while diving for a meal. And once the bird was waterlogged, the cold water made it even more difficult to get out of trouble.

About the Author