An Eclipse, a Fox and a Whale … Oh My!

“An eclipse, a fox and a whale … what's next? A zebra?” These were the words overheard at Robert Moses Field 5 on the afternoon of Monday, August 21st, spoken by a little boy as he incredulously recounted the events of the day. Nearly 30 years his senior, I have to say I shared the sentiment. 

What started as a somewhat spontaneous vacation day to spend relaxing on the beach, perhaps catching a glimpse of the highly publicized 70% of a solar eclipse, turned into a relative bucket list of random natural sightings the likes of which couldn’t have been better orchestrated if one tried. 

After stealing a look at the crescent of golden light as the sky subtlety darkened around us, we decided it was only slightly as impressive as promised. The reactions from those on the surrounding beach blankets ranged from, Oh wow, that was incredible! to Wait, which end is it eclipsing from? I don’t see anything? Luckily for them, the afternoon promised more stellar sights to behold.

As the sun began peeking out once again, a commotion erupted up on the sand behind us, as a small crowd gathered around what at first glance appeared to be a stray dog. Upon further inspection, it proved to be a small furry fox, munching on a bagel, as he calmly eyed the growing swarm of beachgoers. He then trotted down the beach, bouncing from one blanket to the next, pausing under one woman’s umbrella as she sat engrossed in a book. Eventually, someone summoned a lifeguard, who determined that this particular fox was most likely a few years old and, though seemed friendly, was probably best left alone in pursuit of his dinner. 

As the crowd gradually dispersed, the sound of applause was heard down by the water. We turned to see everyone facing west, lifeguards included, eyes fixated on something in the ocean. What now, is someone drowning? one lady was heard muttering. Well, I doubt the lifeguards would be standing applauding if that was the case, her husband retorted. 

As we made our way down to the shoreline, we saw a giant spray of water shoot up from the horizon, followed by a humpback whale flipping through the air and disappearing below the surf. Again, the crowd cheered. And again, the whale leapt into the air, as if taking a bow. I grabbed my phone and attempted to capture the sight, only to find myself filming several minutes of motionless water. But then, at last, he emerged once more. Out for yet another encore. 

As we headed back to our beach blanket, we passed the little boy as he breathlessly encapsulated the day’s happenings. I have to say, I half expected a zebra to come barreling over the sand dunes. It was that kind of afternoon.


{Published: August 30th, 2017}

Jamie Lynn RyanComment