Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hunting Shark's Teeth

The salty air envelops me as I carefully walk the sandy beach. My eyes scan the ground for something elusive. A fossilized treasure that many overlook as they meander along this barrier island. An elderly gentleman approaches me and asks “You lookin’ for them shark’s teeth?” I look up surprised at his question. Many who see me assume I’m hunting for the perfect seashell or for the frosted sea glass that litters the coast. “Yes I am” I reply. “Found any?” he then says. Reaching into the pocket of my swimsuit I retrieve a small glass vial containing eight perfectly shaped teeth and hand it to him. With an amazed look on his face he says “How in the hell do you see these things?”

Every summer for years my family gathered with friends and relatives and spent a week at a rented beach cabin along the shores of Bolivar peninsula. While most of them lie around and soak up the rays I walk slowly scanning the sand. Ever since I found my first shark’s tooth I’ve been hooked. So hooked I’ve spent entire afternoons walking up and down the coast most times returning with a handful.
Sharks lose and replace teeth throughout their lives. In fact they can lose 1000’s of teeth during their lifetime. Seeing them among the many tiny shells along the water’s edge can be a challenge, but I have found that my proficiency at finding these gems has come from just that….finding them. After collecting close to several hundred I feel that my eyes and brain have been trained to pick up on the anything near the triangular shape and black or gray hue of these fossilized teeth.
The best time I’ve found is during a low tide along the “seashell line”, an area where tiny seashells amass during the constant ebb and flow of the ocean. Waves wash the teeth ashore where they settle and are left trapped amongst these areas. They can be found year round and with a little patience and practice you too will see that they’re not as hard as you think to find.

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