Zac McDorrEverybody shares a birthday with a celebrity. My own birthday, May 16, is shared by Janet Jackson, Tori Spelling, Megan Fox, and Danny Trejo. Best of all, Andre the Seal was born on May 16, 1961, on Robinson’s Rock in Penobscot Bay.

Harry Goodridge was a tree surgeon and part-time skin diver in Rockport. His children were used to his odd pets, which included a seagull, robin, crow, and even a trained bat. It was probably no surprise, therefore, when he came home with an abandoned seal pup from Rockland Harbor, which he hoped to use as a diving companion.
It was his third seal, after all. The previous two had been featured in a Life magazine story. Now Andre would live with the Goodridges, where he splashed in the bathtub, went sledding, and watched “Flipper” with the kids.

Andre learned to do tricks, and started attracting crowds at feeding time. He continued to divide his time between the house and the harbor, until winter came. Then he disappeared for five months.

His popularity grew when he returned, but not with everyone. Fishermen grew tired of him sleeping in their boats and jerking on their oars, and Andre received threats.
Goodridge got the idea to winter Andre at an aquarium, and he began driving the seal to Boston or Mystic, Connecticut when the ice came. In the spring, he released Andre and told him to go home to Rockport Harbor, which he always did, for 25 years.

Nineteen years after being found, Andre served as ringbearer at Goodridge’s daughter’s wedding. He had been featured in many national magazines and news broadcasts. A statue of him was dedicated in 1976.

His fame continued after his death in 1986, and his life was even the subject of a 1994 feature film and a 2014 PBS documentary.


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