Should be cleaning, or sleeping but instead I am posting a really long trip report!
Just a warning, this post covers a couple trips and is a little long.
The first of these was a weekend trip to GMR following an awesome weekend in which we found several really nice great whites. Friday there weren’t too many great finds to note and for me Saturday started off pretty slow. Govinn managed to start finding some pretty awesome teeth and for awhile with my ½” screen I was lucky to even find gravel that would stay in it. That all changed when I decided to switch spots and move to the other side of the creek. After filling my screen up with as much gravel as I could find and rinsing it out and removing all the branches and leaves and such I lifted the screen and the remaining spoils up out the water to stare at it all and see if anything was visible without actually moving anything around.
I was about to give up and just sit down on a rock and start moving all the gravel around when I saw in between some shell and rock part of a root; right where it meets the enamel. I kept starting and looking at other exposed areas around it still standing in the creek and holding the screen up and I see another area of tooth. Not only was it a tooth, but it was a big tooth! But only seeing one end I wasn’t completely sold on a great find until I put the screen down and moved the shells and rocks away to see a great white. A nice great white, a whole great white, and it was big! At first of course the first thing that went through my mind was if it was 3” long. I gave my “I found a nice tooth” laugh plucked it out of my screen and started walking towards Govinn who just watched me walk over tooth covered up and asking “Can I use your ruler for a minute”? He ingeniously attached one to his screen. I hand him the tooth and he measures it out to 2 and ½”. Sweet!
It wasn’t long after that we took a break for lunch and drove over to Sonic and got food to go, returning to eat at a picnic table at the park. Well while at Sonic I got an extra drink to go with me, which happened to be an extra large Dr Pepper. Well I carried it back down to the creek and set it up near the cooler and the rest of our gear on a rock. And got right back to shoveling and screening and hoping for the next awesome find! Well it wasn’t too long of a while later when Govinn filled up another screen and was throwing large rocks out to the sides before he rinsed it out entirely. He wasn’t really looking where he was throwing and just lobbing them off to the sides while staring down into his screen looking for that next great white. I didn’t pay much attention to it since he normally gets into the zone and as long as the rocks arnt flying at me I don’t pay much attention. So I just about filled up my screen and am about to rinse it out when I hear another rock fly through the air, hit something, the sound of something cracking following by a strange gush of water. What in the world kind of splash was that? Perplexed by the sound I looked up at Govinn who was looking over at the bank apparently noticing the same thing and I followed his gaze over to our gear where my wonderful ice cold full cup of Dr Pepper was now a crunched cup laying halfway in the water with the contents now being enjoyed by some over-caffeinated minnows! That was a pretty good shot and Govinn apologized repeatedly and I just laughed. Usually I am the clumsy one who ends up knocking things over. I knew it was completely on accident but I still had to pick on him for the rest of the day. All in good fun of course!
It was that evening I believe that Govinn had the misfortune of having the snack crawl over his lap while sitting in the water. I was a ways away going through a screen when Govinn who had just sat down a couple minutes prior sorting through and it was probably our last screens because it was nearly dark but he did a weird movement which included pushing his screen out into the water and holding it up with his legs. Well he didn’t move for a minute and I just watched as he stood there frozen and couldn’t figure out if he was doing some strange leg or ab workout by holding his screen up with just his legs so I asked him if he was all right. That’s when he said in a quiet voice: “Snake”. Well I grabbed my shovel and was hopping across the creek ready to help move along an unfriendly reptile but when I got over there probably due to it was pretty dark and he was in a really rocky area with lots of hiding spots I didn’t see it anywhere. Although I kept watching for awhile and he “very quickly” went through that last screen no other serpent was seen and we packed up and called it a day… err night.
The next day we hit the creek again and found the usual. I pulled out a couple great whites which were unfortunately stream worn and Govinn took the day with some nice great whites and Makos. Fortunately there were no other snake sightings and it was another great day fossil hunting with great friend; who doesn’t like Dr. Pepper. Ha ha sorry I couldn’t resist.
I took a few weekends off from fossil hunting and after while the lure of the creek was too much. I was contacted by another North Carolina fossil collector named Daniel and met him in Aurora Saturday morning (which I was late) for some fossil hunting. The plan was to spend a day at Aurora at the spoil piles and the next day at GMR.
I was going to try to Aurora just after sun up but I stayed up a little too late putting new screening on my sifter since it had been shredded the last weekend I used it. So when I did finally manage to get there (almost eleven) I drove around to all the piles to see if Daniel was there, I didn’t see him. Although I did see a screen that looked like it was made for creek/river/beach screening and not sand screening and a shovel next to a hole in one of the piles with nobody around it. After I overheard a gentleman and lady talking about GMR I casually strolled over and struck up a conversation. The gentleman showed me his GMR finds from the day before and we talked for a bit. Then he mentioned a guy was here a little while ago and was supposed to meet someone here but he hadn’t shown up yet, and wasn’t getting a cell phone signal so he went off to try to contact him. Well that answered the question of where Daniel was. And a couple minutes later he pulled back into the parking lot. We searched and screened at the piles all day without stopping until dark. I didn’t do too bad seeing as I was using a 1/2 inch screen so most of the small teeth were falling through. Daniel who was using a 1/4" screen had a field day and must have found over 1200 teeth; which beat my couple hundred pretty badly. But its always great finding a lot of teeth. I managed to find a couple megs the largest being 1 1/3" and along with most of my other finds I gave them to Daniel. I did keep my largest hemipristis upper that I found due to I hardly ever find them whole and it was pretty big coming in at 1 3/8" which was great. I also managed some really nice Mako's the largest being a hair under 2". But I did find a couple smaller mako's under an inch which were in perfect condition. The roots were perfectly formed and were just awesome; definitely for the display case. Just before dark when we were finishing up I decided to collapse the walls of the giant hole I dug to see if anything would just drop down so Daniel Watched as I jumped around on top of the pile and filled in the sides. We started picking through it a little and right next to Daniel with a little clump of dirt dropped the largest tooth of the day, a very wide 2" mako. Which was his biggest tooth and it was in great condition. Maybe I should wait and let him talk about his finds.
Well, we would have continued searching due to it being such a hard thing to stop but unfortunately neither of us brought night vision goggles. LOL. So we packed it up and headed up to Greenville.
The next day we headed for that wonderful smelling creek known as Green Mill Run. It was my first time I actually saw Bass swimming around in the creek. In fact there were a lot of fish swimming around in the creek today that I noticed, of course minnows everywhere, but every time I looked up I saw another sunfish/bluegill swimming by, a bunch of bass, both of us at different spots in the creek managed to see freshwater eels swimming around. Those things are pretty cool to see swimming around; at least they weren’t snakes LOL.
Anyways, we got started and I had never had such a slow day at GMR; I wasn’t finding anything. I was a little disappointed for awhile and kept switching spots to hopefully find something. Finally after about my third spot I found a 1 1/2" Great White Blade (Carcharodon Carcharias) with the root busted; a real bummer. But still an awesome blade, I gave that to Daniel and kept screening away. Again and again I kept finding nothing so finally I moved back to a spot where I had seen many many people search before but as I walked past it I felt gravel under my feet and the urge was too hard to pass up so I filled up my screen with gravel from random spots all over that little area. After rinsing out some sticks and leaves and all the sand and pebbles right in the middle of the screen was my first good find of the day. A nice big great white with just a little wear on the root!
Remembering my camera and which I also dared to take it into the creek with me which I usually don’t do in fear of dropping it into the water, or falling into the water etc I took a couple screen shots of it in screen. I sat down for a minute pretty happy with the find because it was definitely a trip if not month maker for me and sat there wishing I had brought something to measure it with. I always forget. I even got a calvert cliffs museum ruler that I was going to carry everywhere with me while fossil hunting to do that, even though I lost it and don’t know where I put it. As I was sitting there looking at the tooth I looked at my screen, then back at the tooth, then screen, and then I felt pretty dumb. I had been doing this for six months and didn’t even think about it. 1/2 INCH SCREENING. DUH. Hold the tooth up to the screen and count the squares. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before. Well, I measured it screen style and it was 2 1/4" long. Not too shabby. Definitely one of my larger great whites!
Well after that we packed up from that spot and headed upstream to a couple other spots. We at first tried just walking up the stream but after a spider incident, a random creature brushing up against Daniels leg underwater incident and some deep water we decided to scale the banks with all our gear including a very heavy cooler and just take the trail. We kept going and re-entered the creek about 300 yards up and continued upstream. The goal was to get to a spot with a lot of shell layer and hopefully maybe find some GMR echinoids. Well that didn’t work out so well, but there were A LOT of other kinds of shells to collect. But we didn’t get all the way up there without doing a screen or two here or there and I couldn’t help but stop at a spot where I found a lot of broken Meg pieces before. So we screened there for a bit. On filling up my second or third screen I brought the shovel out of the water covered in whale bones, rocks and mud and sitting right on top I saw something I didn’t expect to see at that moment, a shark tooth blade, and not just a blade a big one, ending with a big root. It was on it’s side sticking out so I could only see part of it, but I just stared and hoped and carefully brought the shovel to the screen, rested the shovel on the screen as I plucked the tooth out of the sand and mud and dumped the remainder into the screen. I dropped the shovel into the creek (in which it promptly sunk to the bottom) and rinsed off the sediment off the tooth and uttered "Holy Cow"! Daniel immediately asked, "What"?. And I walked over with the large tooth in my hand. It was another great white and a big one at that. With a perfect root, a perfect blade, nothing missing, great serrations, decent coloring, no wear on it, and I handed it to him. This was the first day I ever found two Great Whites over 2" and whole in a day before. I was ecstatic! He handed it back to me and I walked over to my screen to use my recently found measuring method; 2 1/2 inches and an awesome find. I couldn’t be any happier. Not bad for only finding 20ish teeth in five hours. I always say I would take quality over quantity! Feeling pretty good about the spot I was in I told Daniel to start digging in it while I took a break and hopefully he would have some luck. I don’t remember if it was his first or second screen there but he pulled out an awesome Mako, A very wide tooth specimen with just a nick out of the root another awesome find. It was easily over 1 1/2 inches and a very jet black color. Now for all my avid readers out there I will divulge where this spot was. I mentioned it in a previous post where on a particularly rainy day Govinn, Denttech and I courageously negotiated a slightly flooding creek to hopefully find some awesome teeth. Well it was the same spot where Denttech took the first plunge of the day into the creek! I know that doesn’t help that much but did you really think I would give up the spot that easily?
We continued up to the shell layer area and Daniel picked up some pretty sweet shells. I didnt find anything too good and I was more hoping to see if there were any shark teeth mixed in. Unfortunately I didn’t find any. I was very surprised about this though because above that area I have found lots of teeth and below that area I have found lots of teeth. Maybe I was just not very lucky at that moment. Up in that area is where Daniel saw an Eel as it appeared to be lurking in the water waiting for its prey to venture a little to close. After that we hoofed it overland back to the cars, loaded up mine and drove downstream to try a different area.
We got down to Green Springs Park and jumped back into the creek. For awhile I didn’t find anything again, but that isn’t uncommon since I was using a 1/2" screen. I used to use a 1/4" screen and would find hundreds of smaller teeth but after awhile I got so many I just decided to try to go through more material for the slightly larger finds and switched to the 1/2". Well Daniel struck first with another big and great condition Mako.
A little upstream from Daniel I saw a large piece of plywood lying in the water. The kid in me all the sudden took over and told me to lift it up to see what kind of critters were under it. So I walked over and slowly lifted it up expecting maybe a frog or crayfish or something, that’s when this big green coil came splashing out of the water and I am thinking snake but it kept moving and definitely not like a snake, so I started following it slowly as it swam around looking for a place to get out of view and realized pretty quickly it was another eel. Eels are pretty cool to see swimming around. It was a very cool green color and just swam around from rock to rock to log etc trying to find a new hideout. It had a hard time in doing that though due to it was easily 15-16” long at the least and was a little to big for the little rocks. It eventually settled for some roots and a big log. After a little while I walked away and put the board back the way it was when I lifted it up so whatever else was living under there could come back to it and continue my quest to find some shark teeth.
After awhile I had gotten farther upstream and just below a log stretching out in the water I decided to try my luck on the downstream side of it. I scooped up and filled my screen, rinsed it out and since the water was very shallow I wasn’t able to rinse out the leaves or sticks. So I held the screen up in the air and just looked to see if I could see anything just on top. At first I didn’t see anything but going back through and just barely visible between a couple larger rocks I saw a blade. Not a big one, but I could tell it was a great white. I put the screen down and pulled out an awesome condition lower great white. It was 1 1/8" long and in perfect condition. I walked back downstream to show it to Daniel. After grabbing a drink I headed back up and continued to look through the screen. Here is where I felt foolish. I must have missed looking through the first time, and it was probably under a leaf or something but there was another Great White; this one a little larger and wider. It was 1 1/4" long and just had one chip out of the root missing. I was pretty stoked with finding 2 GW's in one screen for the first time in a long time. I put it in my tooth case and kept looking and right near that was a big mako. How in the world did I miss these the first time I looked through? The Mako was in great condition except for a chunk missing out of the root. It was 1 7/8" long and again jet black. What an awesome screen!
But that was pretty much the end of the finds for me. About that time the mosquitoes came out in full force and started eating me alive. I must have at least 10 big bites on my right elbow alone. After two days of continuous heavy labor we called it a day around 6:30 and headed back to the vehicles to start our drives home.
Now on a side note from these trip reports I would like to say it has been awesome getting to meet, dig, search and learn with so many new friends. It is always a great time hunting for fossils but it is always better when you are searching with awesome people!
Until next time, good hunting!