The coasts and rivers of Georgia contain a bounty of fossilized shark teeth waiting to be discovered. These ancient predators shed thousands of teeth throughout their lifetimes, leaving concentrated deposits in what is now Georgia’s coastal plains. With some basic knowledge of shark tooth hotspots, likely species, and hunting tips, you’re bound to uncover your own unique souvenirs from Georgia’s prehistoric seas.

Ideal locations to search for shark teeth in Georgia

Ideal locations to search for shark teeth in Georgia

Georgia’s prime fossil beds lie along the coastal beaches and inland waterways. Here are the top spots to explore for prehistoric shark teeth:

Venice Beach

Venice Beach near Savannah is renowned among shark tooth hunters. After strong storm surges, fossils wash up right onto the beach in abundance. Walk the most recent high tide line, scanning for small black triangular teeth peeking out from the sand. Search twice – once with your eyes, and again up close on your hands and knees. After big waves, Venice Beach can turn up thousands of shark teeth in just a morning’s work. Early birds get the bounty before others pick the beach clean.

Little St. Simons Island

Little St. Simons Island near Brunswick is another hot spot. During low tides, slowly walk the beach looking for teeth nestled into the hard-packed sand. Focus on the swash zone where waves lap onto the beach. This turbulent zone naturally concentrates heavier teeth and fossils. Be thorough and patient. Shark teeth on the island’s beaches are numerous but small. Sifting sediment can help reveal even more diminutive teeth.

Jekyll Island

The sandy shores of Jekyll Island also offer excellent tooth hunting opportunities. Search the wrack line just above the high tide mark, especially after big storms and surges pile up debris. Strong winds and waves scour the sandy bottom offshore, uncovering buried teeth. Recent storms can expose fossils not seen for years, replenishing the beach with new treasures. Be sure to inspect piles of natural flotsam washed up by swirling currents which gather these discarded teeth.

St. Andrew Sound

The waterways of St. Andrew Sound near Brunswick hold bountiful Miocene and Eocene fossil beds. Scuba divers can meticulously comb its shallow fossil-rich river beds. Snorkeling around the sound is also productive in clearer shallow regions. Look for the small pointed black triangles scattered in the tan sandy bottom. Focus your eyes just inches ahead and go slowly to spot teeth nestled into the sediment. Diving after storms reveals even more previously buried teeth.

Satilla River

Miles of the Satilla River, from Camden County down between Woodbine and Folkston, offer fossil hunting grounds. Wade slowly in the shallower areas looking for teeth accumulated in exposed layers. Search the eroded banks along bends where stronger currents concentrate heavier fossils. Some portions can be paddled or motored by small watercraft for broader access. Just be sure to keep your eyes peeled on the river bottom, as many teeth go unnoticed from boats.

Mine pits and road cuts

Limestone mine pits and road cuts often reveal fossil layers normally hidden below ground. Their massive earthmoving equipment strips away vegetation, topsoil, and overlying strata, carving down into fossiliferous beds. Search the ground, and sift through nearby spoil piles and gravel pits with a screen. Road cuts through hills create cross-sections exposing geological sediments where teeth tend to concentrate. Be extremely careful around unstable banks and steep pit walls, however.

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When are the best times to search?

Prime shark tooth hunting takes optimal timing as much as location. Plan your trips around favorable coastal conditions:

After storms

Hunt teeth immediately following hurricanes, nor’easters, and extreme storms. Heavy winds and waves scour the seabed, uncovering buried teeth and concentrating them in certain zones. Big storm surges also wash large numbers of teeth ashore above the normal high tide line onto the beach. Search the high debris lines left by swirling storm currents which naturally collect fossils. Find fresh teeth before others or the next tide reclaims them.

Low spring tides

Low tide during daylight hours allows hunters to search larger exposed areas. Favorable spring tide cycles every two weeks draw down water levels even more for several days. The lowest tides expose fossil beds beyond the normal reach of waves, especially along tidal creeks and rivers. Take advantage of low water to access more promising terrain.

After rain storms

Inland riverbeds become more searchable when rainfall adds some depth. Higher flow spreads out teeth and improves visibility through the water. Fossil hunting right after substantial rains or flooding is ideal. Just take proper precautions like avoiding swift currents and slippery banks.

Winter months

Late fall through early spring generally bring an increased frequency of storms and nor’easters. Colder months with higher winds generate the heavy surf that replenishes beaches with fossils. Bundled up hunters will have more success during the winter shark tooth season.

Early morning

Begin your search at first light to take advantage of others not out yet. After storms, the lowest tides or best fossils may be picked over quickly in popular areas. The early bird gets first chance at washed-up treasures before the next high tide reclaims them. And beat the heat on hot summer beach days.

Where to focus your shark tooth search

Where to focus your shark tooth search

Pinpointing the exact habitats prone to accumulating shark teeth ensures more fruitful hunts. Concentrate efforts in these high-probability zones:

High tide line and wrack zones

Focus intensely on the high tide line, where debris left by the last high tide gathers. Big storm surges often deposit teeth and shells above the normal reach of waves. Likewise, search wrack zones with mounds of natural debris pushed far up the beach by storm currents and swirling tides.

Swash zone

The swash zone is the turbulent region where waves lap onto and recede from the beach. This water movement sorts denser fossils from sand grains. Check the swash zone repeatedly, since ongoing wave action constantly rearranges materials.

Tidal creek mouths

Search the mouths of smaller tidal creeks draining into major sounds and rivers. Outgoing tides funnel water through narrower outlets, increasing flow to concentrate fossils. Teeth collect in the deeper holes scoured out by rushing water.

Sand bars

Long sand bars parallel to shore attract teeth washing laterally alongbeach. Look for deeper ends and outside curves of sand bars where swifter currents sweep up teeth into depressions. Cut-throughs in the middle also concentrate fossils in these obstructions.

Dredge piles and spoil banks

Check river dredge spoils carefully. These piles get double processing from both digging and wave action, revealing even more fossils. Roadway and construction spoils also grant access to unweathered subsoil likely to contain teeth. Just avoid collapsing unstable piles.

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Shipwrecks

Remains of old shipwrecks protruding from sand often amass fossils in the wood and surrounding scatter. Ships’ debris offers hard surfaces for teeth to wedge among, rather than shifting sands. But be wary of faster currents around old wrecks.

Nearby barrier islands

Smaller nearby barrier islands found off the Georgia coast have less beachcomber activity. Their beaches tend to accumulate more wash-up fossils like shark teeth. Try Blackbeard, Ossabaw, St. Catherines islands for potentially richer, less-picked hunting grounds.

The major shark tooth species found in Georgia

Hunters should educate themselves on shark tooth anatomy and special traits of different species. Knowing what to look for identifies your finds and makes you a more discerning collector. Here are the primary shark tooth fossils found in Georgia’s coastal region:

The most coveted shark tooth prize – Megalodon’s iconic triangular tooth reached over 7 inches long! They are thick and robust, with a broad base and lateral serrations. These teeth came from the largest prehistoric shark that ever lived, estimated at over 60 feet long.

Tiger shark teeth fossils display the broad, notched shapes their species is recognized for. Fossils range from 1 to 3 inches long and almost as wide. Look for the signature notch on each shoulder, and extremely coarse serrations along the edges.

Bull shark fossils have stout, smooth-edged triangular teeth reaching 1 inch long. Their thick triangular shape and lack of serrations distinguishes them from other species’ teeth.

Fossilized teeth from ancient great whites reflect their modern design. Triangular in shape with wide base and lateral serrations. They range from 1 to 3 inches long. Serrations are finer than on tiger or megalodon teeth of similar size.

Long, pointed teeth of mako sharks allowed for swift open ocean hunting. Their streamlined, smooth-edged teeth reached over 2 inches in length. Mako teeth have an elongated symmetrical triangle shape and very fine serrations.

These sharks had bizarre flattened hammer-shaped heads with eyes spaced far apart. Their teeth match this unique look – nearly straight with coarse serrations along a broad flattened crown. Most fossils measure under 2 inches wide.

The snaggletoothed appearance of sand tigers produces noticeably uneven teeth. Tiny cusps stick out, and the crowns have triple points. They resemble broken human molars but on a 0.5 to 1 inch scale.

Learn to identify the key features, shape, serrations and proportions of different shark teeth species. This knowledge helps you appreciate and compile your personal collection.

Why Georgia’s waters hold such abundant shark teeth

Why Georgia's waters hold such abundant shark teeth

The southeastern coastal plains proved ideal for fossilization of millions of shed shark teeth:

Sharks continually shed teeth which were replaced in rows throughout their long lives. Most sharks produced over 40 rows of teeth, ensuring a huge number of discards over time.

Teeth sank rapidly before scavengers or currents could disperse them across the seafloor. Quick burial in sediment allowed teeth to become fossilized.

Sediments at the bottom of Georgia’s prehistoric coast contained little oxygen. This inhibited bacteria from breaking down tooth enamel, preserving it instead.

Georgia retained these prime conditions for fossilization across millions of years. This allowed enormous amounts of shed teeth to accumulate in concentrated deposits over vast timescales.

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Shark tooth enamel consists of tough minerals like fluoroapatite. This hard material resists deterioration and decay, lasting through the fossilization process.

Combined, these factors produced a dense record of fossilized shark teeth compared to other marine animals. Georgia’s present coast and rivers now expose these relict sediments, giving up their hidden bounty to lucky collectors.

Legality and ethics of collecting shark teeth in Georgia

Fossil shark teeth found along public waterways and beaches can be legally kept without permits or payment. However, be sure to adhere to some basic guidelines:

  • Avoid trespassing onto private lands or marked nature preserves that require authorization.
  • Do not gather teeth using shovels, picks or powered equipment which causes damage.
  • Leave all historical artifacts and sites undisturbed and notify authorities of any human remains.
  • Refrain from removing complete large specimens that are scientifically valuable for research.
  • Only collect what you can reasonably care for; avoid hoarding specimens.
  • If you unearth an extraordinarily rare tooth, consider donating it to museums for future education.
  • Help future generations enjoy the same shark tooth bounty by not over-collecting areas.

Responsible collectors make sure these non-renewable natural resources are preserved and appreciated by all. Follow the simple rules and favorite shark tooth hunting spots will keep producing treasures for everyone.

Storing, handling and displaying your shark tooth collection

Once you’ve amassed an impressive cache of shark teeth, proper storage and display helps keep them safe while looking great:

  • Group teeth in small labeled boxes by location or type.
  • Wrap larger or fragile teeth in tissue. Avoid touching enamel surfaces.
  • Keep teeth in a cool, dark, dry place to prevent moisture damage or fading.
  • Store your best specimens in fireproof safes or safety deposit boxes for protection.
  • Only pick up teeth by the root to avoid damaging enamel.
  • Wash sand or dirt off with tap water. Avoid chemical cleaners which can damage teeth.
  • Let teeth dry fully on a soft cloth before storage to prevent mold growth.
  • Arrange teeth attractively in glass-covered shadowboxes.
  • Affix teeth in lifelike positions to black felt or acrylic backings using museum wax.
  • Group teeth together based on type or location for interesting displays.
  • Prevent UV light damage by keeping teeth out of direct sunlight.

Well-curated collections reveal the history, rarity and beauty of these unique Georgia fossils for all to enjoy. Follow proper preservation methods, and your finds can educate future generations of shark tooth hunters.

This covers the major aspects of shark tooth hunting in Georgia in expanded detail. Let me know if you would like me to elaborate on any particular sections further.

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