Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro R. Pierluisi speaks with a staffer at the National Governors Association meeting in Portland on Thursday, July 14, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Pierluisi took advantage of his time in Portland for the National Governors Association meeting with a Wednesday morning kayaking trip in Casco Bay.

He saw a bald eagle, marking the first time he had ever seen the national bird.

“I’ve seen bald eagles all over the place, but it’s usually movies for me,” Pierluisi said. “We don’t have those in Puerto Rico. So that’s one I’ll never forget.”

It wasn’t the only exploring he did in Maine: He also managed to get a reservation at Scales, an upscale seafood restaurant on the Portland waterfront that he called “amazing.”

Pierluisi has been to Maine before, but it has been a while: He came for a National Association of Attorneys General meeting in the 1990s while he served in the equivalent position of secretary of justice in Puerto Rico.

“I find it so beautiful,” Pierluisi said. “And the people are so warm.”

Pierluisi, who is affiliated with the Democratic Party, said that Maine and Puerto Rico share a common belief in the importance of the environment and the fight against climate change.

“Things such as ocean temperature rise, sea level rise, beach erosion in the waters,” Pierluisi said. “In that sense, I think we’re similar jurisdictions.”

He noted that his territory, which has 3.2 million people, nearly two and a half times more than Maine, faces all the same problems as the rest of the country: rising oil prices, inflation and supply chain issues, among other things.

“We don’t vote for president, and we do not have a voting representation in Congress,” Pierluisi said. “But, at the administration level, what we do as governors in the territories is basically the same as governors in the states.”