One of my favorites has always been the body surfing deer. It was a complete stroke of luck to have witnessed it and even more incredible to have captured it in several frames. Today I believe I topped it, but it was a bit more than just a shooting session... it literally turned into a wildlife rescue.
I almost didn't go to the beach this morning. I had a few jobs in Springs early and watched the sun rise from Louse Point. I then shot over to Amagansett to check on a house I watch, where I decided to shoot down to Atlantic Ave. beach to see what the waves were doing. When I arrived, I saw the back flow was setting up the oncoming waves for great photo opportunities (Wave Sculptures). I walked to the waters edge and stared at the foamy break, watching for a perfect connection of waves. The sun was already 7:00am high and as I glanced to the east I spotted something that stuck out in the water. It wasn't too far out and it was moving west toward me. First I thought it was a scotor or sheldrake but as it neared I saw it had no resemblance to waterfowl at all. A seal maybe, but way too small. It finally got close enough where I was able to tell it was a fur barring critter, most likely a muskrat. I switched my camera lens from wide angle to telephoto, put it to my eye and was surprised to see it was a raccoon. I immediately began shooting frames of the masked marauder swimming parallel to the shoreline. Every now and then it would turn in and ride a wave closer to shore like it was quite familiar with the ocean and the waves. Sadly, that wasn't the case at all.
The water was not calm and it didn't take long to realize this little guy was in a bit of a jam. A rather large wave engulfed the poor guy and he disappeared for a moment. I was heartbroken realizing what was going on. A few seconds later, his head popped up and he began fighting the current trying to get back to shore. I had my truck on the beach so I put my camera on the hood, took off my shoes and socks and rolled up my pants. I had my wet suit, but didn't feel I had time to put it on so I grabbed my golf ball grabber with net attached to the end (for catching bats and flying squirrels on houses) and extended it to roughly 20'. I let it slap down onto the water and I dropped it,...DOH !! I was able to grab it right back and looked up to see the raccoon had grabbed the net. I ran backwards and dragged the bugger to the waters edge where he let go of the net.
During my fire service days upstate in Tuxedo, NY, I was a certified Swiftwater Rescue tech and a member of NASAR. First rule of thumb when attempting a water rescue from the water, with a HUMAN victim who may be hypothermic, and / or showing signs of disorientation ..... NEVER, let them grab ahold of you. With that said, and no matter how much I wanted to dry the frigid critter off....and even though we were no longer in the water... I was NOT going anywhere near this guy. I ran up to my vehicle while the raccoon got it's balance and coughed up a lung full of saltwater. I grabbed my camera and just as I fired off a shot, a rogue wave side swiped the unlucky fella knocking him off his feet. He quickly regained himself and scooted up to higher ground, stopped and stared at me for a full minute, giving me a look that I haven't quite deciphered. As much as I'd like to think he was thankful for my help, I'm quite certain he didn't know what the hell had just happened, or who the heck I was. A few shakes and twists to shed a soaking coat, a stumble or two to get the gait and off he went, ... not up into the dunes, but along the shoreline. This one is bound to keep me confused and in wonderment.