At 42, Jamie Sewell is one of the youngest of the 85 commercially licensed scallop divers left in Maine. Supposedly there’s another guy who is 41, but Sewell doesn’t know him. All he knows is, he counts for young in a dwindling if not dying business.
These are tough guys (and at this point, no women hold commercial licenses to scallop dive). There are a lot of ways one could explain that: the plunge into wintry waters of, say, 37 degrees, the even colder temperatures on deck, the solitary nature of this form of fishing. But Sewell? If ever there were a way to take the measure of a man’s toughness, it would be Sewell. He was in a snowmobile accident in 2009, and it cost him dearly.
“When I lost my arm, (diving) was one of the easier things to pick back up,” Sewell said. He’s been right-handed all his life, but under the water, where he is weightless and made graceful by the pressure of the sea, he always found it easier to hold his mesh collection bag in his right hand and pick up the scallops with his left. Now, without his right arm, he still does that, anchoring the bag on his prosthetic. “It came back more natural than a lot of things.”
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