Kem McNair's surfing gull of New Smyrna Beach: 'Nature never ceases to amaze me'

Kem McNair surfer dude series / Headline Surfer®
First in a year-long series of feature stories published on the final Sunday of each month on the adventures of surfer dude Kem McNair, who has surfed the waves of New Smyrna Beach for more than half a century, chronicling the creatures of the land, sea and air along the way.
 
Surfer Kem McNair captures Seagull riding surf on camera in New Smyrna Beach, FL / Headline Surfer®
Video by Kem McNair / for publication by HeadlineSurfer.com /
A juvenile seagull bodysurfing a wave at the inlet in the South Jetty of NewSmyrna Beach inlet on Nov. 24, 2011, in a 28-frame sequence using Canon 7D camera. 
 

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- "This was no accident! I saw him swim up the whitewater, turn at the top and drop in on the wave and ride it all the way to the beach, while using his wings to turn right, then left in the whitewater. I could not believe my eyes."

Seagull rides a wave in New Smyrna Beach, FL as captured by surfer Kem McNair / Headline Surfer®"This good size wave (for a seagull) comes rolling in and the gull swims up the face of the wave and when he gets to the top, he turns and catches the wave and starts riding the wave like a bodysurfer or surfer."

These were the words of surfer dude Kem McNair as he captured a seagull riding a wave, something he would have thought was an impossibility. Such an event occurred on Nov. 24, 2011.

These were the words of surfer dude Kem McNair as he captured a seagull riding a wave, something he would have thought was an impossibility. Such an event occurred on Nov. 24, 2011.

Capturing the surfing seagull was a fluke.

"I happened to be down at New Smyrna inlet and the waves were not very good, so I drove down to the jetty. Almost every time I go down there I get something amazing."

He took out his camera and was walking around on the river side of the jetty looking for diving pelicans, ospreys, dolphins -- as he says, "anything cool to snap a picture of."

That's when he noticed when he noticed one seagull, in particular, swimming over the waves.

"This good size wave (for a seagull) comes rolling in and the gull swims up the face of the wave and when he gets to the top, he turns and catches the wave and starts riding the wave like a bodysurfer or surfer," McNair said.

Seagull rides a wave in New Smyrna Beach, FL / Headline Surfer®"This good size wave (for a seagull) comes rolling in and the gull swims up the face of the wave and when he gets to the top, he turns and catches the wave and starts riding the wave like a bodysurfer or surfer."

--Description of seagull surfing as told by Kem McNair.

But that wasn't what caught McNair's fancy as much as the following: "The strange thing was he was having fun while doing it. He would stick his wing out and drag it in the water to turn right and do the same with his left wing. The bird definitely had done this before. He rode the white water all the way to the beach and kicked out of the wave just as a surfer would do."

McNair's overall reaction?

"I was amazed," the 63-year-old surfer said. "I have been on the beach for over 50 years and had never seen a gull ride a wave. I've seen plenty of pelican get caught by waves and even ospreys, but never seen a bird ride a wave on purpose and having fun doing it. Nature never ceases to amaze me. Thats why I love it so much."

Kem McNair in his own words on surfing:

Surfer dude Kem McNair / Headline Surfer®"I started surfing in New Smyrna Beach, Florida in April 1964...the same month that I got my first 9'1" Daytona Beach Surf Shop/Miller. After winning my first surf contest in 1966, I was asked to join the East Coast Hobie Team by Gary Propper, and subsequently won the Florida State Championships in 1968. I went on to become the Atlantic States Champ and the East Coast Champ in 1969, and was a member of the East Coast Team for the 1970, '71 and '72 United States Championships in Huntington Beach, California, as well as the 1972 World Championship. You'll find me out there in the lineup every day that the waves are good...there are still a lot more to ride!"
 

Check out McNair and the artistry that goes with his love of surfing, including photography, surf-board art and music at his website: KemMcNair.com.

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Posted Tue, 2015-01-20 21:29
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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.