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Winter Reading II: Beach Landings and Guard Turtles

The next morning we got up bright and early again and hitched up the boat and were on our way.  Destination: Potomac River.  I really wanted to find my first Otodus Obliquus tooth.  And not the kind you find in beach shops at Ocean City and Myrtle Beach!

After making the routine stop for snacks, fuel and stuff like that it was time to hit the river.  We got to the docking spot, loaded up and we were on our way. 

The first noticeable thing about the Potomac was the amount of weeds everywhere.  Lots and lots of it.  We stopped at a spot on the Virginia side first and the next thing I noticed was the shell molds and the huge amounts of turratella everywhere.  (Im sure I misspelled that).  Anyways, they were covering the small areas of beach.  This wasn’t going to make things easy but still, Greg went one way and me and Eric went the other, combing the ground for those little treasures.  They came almost immediately in the shape and form of very cool brown rooted, bluish gray bladed goblin/sand tiger shark teeth.  Varying in size but they were some gorgeous teeth and I loved the coloring to them.  I say Goblin/Sand tiger due to the fact that I got into a long discussion with Andy at the Aurora Fossil Museum about them and after looking through the books we decided to call them Goblins even though most people call them sand tigers.  Which kind of made sense to me since they were all over mixed in with Otodus Obliquus.  And the time period would definitely be a lot closer.  If someone could shed some light on that theory please do!


Anyways Eric stopped and started sifting through the sand with his hands and I kept going and managed a small shark vert and some fish verts as well as some broken ray grinder plates.  Well when I got back to where Eric was come to find out that running his fingers through the sand was a great idea!  Not only did he have several nice “Goblins” but he found the first complete and very nice Otodus of the day.  It was about 1 ¼” long but it was in perfect condition.  Well, when in rome, so I joined him hoping to find my own.  I was sadly disappointed and after trying my luck screening for a few moments Greg caught up from his side and we hopped back in the boat and were on our way. 

Getting to a spot on the Virginia side just down from the docks was easy.  But after that spot Greg decided we needed to go to the Maryland side.  Purse State Park I believe was the destination and so we set out across the mighty Potomac river in a 14ft boat.  I think it was.  Well, the waves and the wind and the larger boats out decided that we needed a fun ride.  Imagine Eric at the front of the boat getting thrown up and down as we hit waves trying to watch for debree in the water while getting spraid in the face.  I had really large sunglasses but decided as the water was spraying me in the face everytime the boat smacked the water and decided that was the best time to drink the cup of coffee I brought with me and posed a pretty good picture as well.  Well, once we got to the other side, I inherited the job of jumping off the boat into the water and pulling everyone into shore and tying up the boat.  Well I did so, again the water was wonderful  and warm and but not before trying to check how deep it was.  And losing my shovel in the water and watching it disappear into the murky depths.  OH NO!  Well after jumping in after it and failing miserably to find it, I counted my losses and started pulling in the boat when Greg spotted it a little ways away!  I surged to the spot and pulled out my shovel which fortunately had air pockets in the handle and it somewhat floated a few inches below the surface!

The second beach landing finally over we hit the beach ready to find those fossilized treasures.  I was ready for my first Otodus and didn’t have long to wait as the surf washed a nice one missing a lobe and cusp up right in between me and Eric who were both staring at the ground watching for our first finds.  Success!  I continued walking and Greg and Eric went the other way and it wasn’t long before I found an Artifact!  Although this one was probably somewhere between 1 and 5 years old and resembled a fishing lure!  Well could be worse I guess.  I pocked the lure and kept moving picking up many many goblin shark teeth and keeping my eyes peeled for hopefully a glimpse of a Crocodile tooth somewhere in my midst.  Well the Croc tooth was naught to be found and eventually I made my way back to the boat, grabbed my screen and went to find Eric and Greg who made there way pretty far down the beach and were doing pretty well.  I dropped the shovel and screen and started surface collecting once again with small teeth to be picked up all over.  Finally I decided to give screening a try and wandered out into the river.  Found a waist deep area and started filling up my screen.  That first screen I pulled out two Otodus even though they were both severely warn and barely recognizable.  And  as it happened the day before I found nothing once again. 

We continued back down the beach farther then where I was last time and started finding the usual smaller Otodus and goblins and smaller teeth when Greg picked up the first Croc Tooth of the day.  It wasn’t long after that Eric pulled out the second tooth of the day.  I unfortunately found lots of rocks and sand. 

But my time was yet to come because soon we were back on our way, fighting the wind and waves to get back to the Virginia side!  We started stopping at every spot we could and the teeth kept coming.  I kept walking farther and farther and started climbing up, over, under and around all the trees, logs and half submerged limbs.  It wasn’t long before I found my first whole ray mouth plate!  SUCCESS!  Of course that got me motivated and it wasn’t long before I picked up two more smaller Otodus teeth!  I really liked the light blue color these teeth have! 

We kept switching spots, and searching them before moving on.  Every time we stopped I would take it on myself as my job to hit the water first and secure the boat.  The finds came steady and soon it was a unanimous decision to find someplace to eat.  Well we picked a really nice restaurant right on the river with a dock to pull the boat up too.  Which was an adventure in itself getting he boat tied off and getting everyone in our group onto the doc and dry and finally made it inside.  I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant but after seafood, burgers, shrimp and all sorts of really good food it was time to head back.  So we climbed back into the boat and started on our way when Greg said as we were coming up on another spot we had not hit yet, that we have time and daylight if you want to try one more time.

Well I sure as hell wasn’t gonna say no!

Well, we started getting close to shore and I got ready to jump off the side into the water.  I asked Greg how deep it was and he responded with two feet deep.  PERFECT!  So I jumped in.  Not a graceful hop, or lowering myself, I guess the Marine in me took over and I hopped off the side of that boat like I was Island Hopping back in 1944.  Well, we think that Greg’s depth finer was sitting over a log or something at the time it said two feet because all the sudden I was up to my neck in deep water!  And to make matters worse, something kept pressing against my thigh/leg.  What in the world is that I said to myself as I reached down to find that after we left the restaurant my wallet went right back into my pocket and not into the backpack on the boat.  Well, everything in my wallet was completely soaked.  So  I handed back up to Greg on the boat, grabbed the rope and headed into shore. 

Despite the rough start this was definitely the most memorable spot on the trip.  It was a very rocky spot and due to the approaching dark we didn’t waste any time in splitting up.  Eric and I went to the right and slowly combed the small collecting area that was available and Greg took off to the right.  We climbed over the large rocks and logs and over piles of leaves and sand as we left nothing uncovered.  The smaller teeth were all over the place and we quickly picked them up and put them in our pockets.  I got a little ways ahead of Eric and wasn’t paying attention to him until he started talking.  The funny thing is he wasn’t talking to me, so I looked over and he wasn’t talking to Greg either since Greg was nowhere to be seen.  Then I realized he was talking to the Ground in front of him.  Did Eric get a little too much sun today?  No, it was a turtle that crawled out of the water next to him and walked up and sat down a foot away and watched him sift thru the sand.  Of all the funny things that I have seen while fossil hunting this definitely ranked up there.  Eric mentioned how he was searching and noticed the water moving abnormally and when he looked this box turtle came out and walked right up to him.  Watched as he was sifting, then when Eric moved away a few feet the turtle followed him and this time walked up between his legs and again sat down watching him look for teeth.  I walked over and we both just watched the turtle and it just continued staring at us.  If he was the guardian of the teethy treasure at this location he wasn’t doing much to stop us.  I don’t think I will ever see something like that ever happen again but it was a funny experience. 

Leaving the turtle where we found it we moved farther down the riverbank.  I once again got ahead and approached a large clump of sand and twigs and leaves and there sitting on the top was a root.  A big root.  Indented and no mistaking what it was.  I made an excited sound and reached out and plucked the 2 ¼” Otodus out of the sand!  The biggest tooth of the day!  My day was complete!  Well, except for the croc tooth but that will come another day!  But by then it was getting very dark and we still had to make the return trip so we took off, passing a couple Ospreys on the way and failing to take a good picture in the failing light.  We also managed to get eaten alive by mosquitos that day but all and all an excellent day on the Potomac!

1 available
Location Potomac River, Virginia, USA

Date Added2/13/2010

The Finds!
The Toads
The Better Toads

5/18/2010 trip, nice otodus
5/18/2010 trip, nice otodus
March Monster
March Monster

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