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
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
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!