Call it a game of cat and mouse or being in the right place at the right time, but either way you look at it, shark tooth hunters all share a common goal: to find a piece of ocean history.
“Shark’s teeth are more than a collector’s item, they tell a story about each shark that swam in the waters off our coast,” said Peter Brimlow, a shark tooth collector.
Walking the shoreline in Myrtle Beach, it was a cold morning; a winter storm was brewing and the sun was just cresting over the horizon. Brimlow was focused on the sand, carefully looking before taking his next step. He was walking on glass. Each step was so gentle and careful. He didn’t want to miss a tooth waiting to be discovered.
“A friend introduced me to shark tooth hunting several years ago right here in Myrtle Beach,” Brimlow said. “I was addicted to searching for them instantly.”
He said he has been collecting shark’s teeth for several years and has more than 11,000.
For others, shark tooth hunting is “Something to do in between sun-tanning, body-surfing and people-watching,” said Mark Kruea, a shark tooth collector.
Kruea said he has been collecting shark’s teeth for several years and has thousands. He said he got into the hobby because of the thrill of the hunt.
“You know they exist, but can you find them?” Kruea said. “It’s like a miniature treasure hunt. Each discovery is satisfying.”
Even though he has never found a big tooth “The search and the find are satisfying enough,” said Kruea.
Shark tooth hunting is a serious hobby.
It requires getting up sometimes before the sun and hitting the beach during low tide. That is the best time because the tide lines or the lines of debris are exposed. According to Danielle’s Dive Blog, walk that line and look for black triangles. These are the sharks’ teeth.
Brimlow said it’s something about the jet-black shine of the teeth to the thought of where they came from that fuels his passion.
“Were they here offshore or have they traveled the oceans for years and finally presented themselves for me to find,” said Brimlow.
According to chemistry.about.com shark’s teeth start to turn black after being buried in sediments. The teeth absorb surrounding minerals, turning them from a normal whitish tooth color to black, gray, or tan. The fossilization process takes at least 10,000 years, although some fossil shark’s teeth are millions of years old
Here’s another piece of shark tooth trivia for you. If you do find a tooth, take a close look at it. Look for serrations or little ridges running up and down the side of the tooth.
“Serrations on a side of a tooth tell us that tooth was a shearing tooth,” said Dr. Daniel Abel, a marine biologist at Coastal Carolina University. “A shark would approach its prey from the bottom, perform a slashing cut into the animal and let it bleed out, then will eat it.”
So, as the tables have turned and we are now hunting the hunter, remember this piece of shark tooth hunting advice. Get out there and start looking for your gift from the sea.