It’s no secret that fossil hunting is one of our favorite pastimes, and it can become yours, too! You don’t have to be an expert to uncover million-year-old hidden treasure next time you’re at the beach. Whether you’re in it for the relaxation it brings, the natural fascination of paleontology, or the allure of the ocean, this mini-guide is exactly what you need to get started! We’ve collected fossils all over the southeast and beyond, but our specialty is the Carolina coast. It’s here that we’ve discovered thousands of our first love, shark’s teeth. Here are a few of our most useful shark tooth hunting tips (as well as other fossils) to help every newbie paleontologist along their fossil hunting journey.
Are you interested in more shark tooth fossil hunting tips? Follow our social media pages (@foxyfossils) to find that and so much more. From marine conservation and sustainability to paleontology and one-of-a-kind prehistoric jewelry designs, we cover it all!
The Top Tips You Need to Get Started Fossil Hunting
Choose Your Hunting Ground Wisely
Beaches are an excellent place for beginners to start, especially since the ocean does much of the hard work for you. The key here is looking in places where the sand is continuously shifting, and new deposits of shells are made regularly. As the waves crash onto the shore, shells, bones, teeth, and other fossils are placed onto the beach for you to find! It’s here that you’ll hit the fossil jackpot!
While diving (with a license) is often preferred to find the larger fossils (like the fossilized megalodon teeth), you can also find a wide variety of impressive treasures in other ways. Paddleboarding out to nearby sand bars or other secluded banks that are relatively untouched can offer some incredible finds! If you do venture out to these places, remember to be respectful of these habitats and disturb them as little as possible. This means no digging or disrupting the land.
Learn more about how fossils are formed.
Know When to Look
Your timing can be just as important as the location. It's generally best to hit the beach at low tide or as the tide is rolling in. As it changes, the ocean's ebb and flow will dredge up the ocean floor and uncover fossils that are then deposited on the shores either on top of the sand or right below the surface. Your goal, especially when combing a popular beach, is to be there when no one else is. Consider going in the early morning hours before the new deposits can be taken, broken, or re-buried by other visitors.
What to Look For
You should head straight for any dense shell beds found near the shore and look for anything jet black. People often expect shark teeth to be an off-white color, but that's only true of modern shark teeth, which are incredibly rare to find on the beach. The teeth turn black during the fossilization process. Although, you should still be looking for their signature "T" shape and ridge patterns on the tooth. You may find some smaller than your pinky nail, while others could be a few inches long.
The ocean naturally sorts fragments based on size, weight, density, etc., and tends to group similar things together. This means if you find a fossil, there are likely more there! Keep looking in that area or check just below the surface.
Bring the Right Tools
If you visit the shore at low tide, you can look for triangle shapes in the sand in hopes that something catches your eye, but you'll want to have the right tools to dig a little deeper when necessary! Here are a few essential tools:
- Floating sifter screen
- Bug spray
- XTRATUF waterproof shoes
- Hat to protect you from the sun
Have Patience and Stick with It
Fossil hunting is a time-consuming process, but finding the perfect piece of history will give you a rush like no other...one that every fossil hunter is always chasing!
So, You’re Digging Fossils? Check Out Our Shark Tooth Jewelry!
Our passion for prehistoric fossils has collided with our love of handmade jewelry! Let's turn those newly uncovered fossils into one-of-a-kind accessories. Think necklaces, bracelets, rings, and more! We do it all.
Whether you collect a great white shark tooth, a stingray barb, or any other fossils, we'll craft your prehistoric treasure into a modern design that feels unique to you. Plus, part of that purchase will go directly towards caring for modern sharks and promoting education around marine conservation. Check out just a few of our favorite past designs to explore the possibilities, or go ahead and snag one using fossils from our own collection! Contact Us for custom orders. As always, happy hunting!