We all want to leave the beach with a little sun on our skin, a dose of salt and vitamin D and a piece of treasure to take home with us. Whether you’re looking for sea glass, shells, or shark’s teeth, we’ve got a few tips to help you find and identify the buried treasure along our coastline.
A Little About Shark’s Teeth
Sharks have 4 rows of teeth and lose hundreds of them daily. When the lost teeth sink to the bottom of the ocean and become buried in sediment. Eventually, it begins to fossilize. The minerals in the sediment gradually replace the original tooth material. This process takes thousands of years to complete, which is why so many people collect shark’s teeth—they’re a part of history!
Most shark’s teeth range in size from less than a half-inch to over six inches. Rarer finds such as a tooth from a prehistoric Megladon are over 7 inches. On average the tooth of a great white shark is about 3 inches.
What To Look For
Along the tideline of a beach, keep an eye out for triangular shapes. Newer teeth are still white, black teeth—which are more common finds—have been fossilized over time. Wide bases are attached to thinner triangles of varying sharpness.
Sometimes, shark teeth will have serrated edges and are curved in a certain way, depending on what side of the mouth the tooth was on. For serious hunters, a naked eye might not be enough; chances of finding shark teeth increase the more you dig and sift through the sand. A sieve or sifter might help you sort through the sand faster and more efficiently than your fingers.
When and Where to Hunt
Where there are sharks there are shark’s teeth. There are some beaches more well known for having lots of shark’s teeth, but they can be found on any beach. Topsail Beach, North Carolina is one of the most well-known shark tooth islands along the East Coast.
A lot of finding shark’s teeth is knowing when and where to look. Essentially any time there is movement on the ocean floor is a good time. This could mean after a big storm or if there is nearby dredging. Sandbars and tidepools at low tide are also a great place to look because the water is constantly moving.
Some claim that there are more sharks teeth during and around full moon cycles because the pull of the tide is stronger, but there is no evidence that this is true.
Finding shark’s teeth can be a fun family activity, combing the shores looking for the little black triangles and trying to identify what type of shark they may have come from. Try to be patient as you may not find one on every excursion, but typically a shark can produce up to 25,000 teeth over a lifetime so there’s plenty out there to find!