Monday, March 5, 2012

My New Favorite Hobby

What is this?? 3 posts IN THE SAME YEAR?? Yep, I've returned - better than ever! (Well, probably not, but at least I feel like writing again)

As you know, I moved last summer. The fishing opportunities in So. Maryland have been infrequent and, well, uneventful. At least so far. But, while fishing has always been my passion, I really like to do about anything outside around the water. And now I've found my new hobby.

I'm a fossil hunter.

A really bad one. One who doesn't know exactly what it is that I'm looking at on the rare occasion that I find something. But a fossil hunter nonetheless.

So. Maryland is home to a relatively unique feature along much of the Calvert Co shoreline on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. There are cliffs rising up from the bay. These cliffs are home to a LOT of fossils, which continually wash into the Bay via natural erosion. And once in the Bay, they wash upon the shoreline, or at least in the shell / stone / junk that accumulates in the waves and on the beaches. There are only a few public or quasi-public beach stretches here, but they all have the potential to yield a handful of fossilized sharks teeth on any given afternoon. I had read about the teeth found here, and researched it (we joined the Calvert Marine Museum, which is well worth any one's time if you ever find yourself in Calvert Co)so I decided I would go and try to find my very own shark's teeth. My wife likes to meander around beaches too, so this is a perfect escape for the two of us when we get some time.

Saturday we found we had some time and headed off to Flag Ponds Park. Only a few cars were in the lot. We walked the 1/2 mile trail toward the beach. Along the way we were greeted with lots of evidence of last summer's hurricane.

We checked out the salt pond where we saw the cooter last week. Another one was spotted but this one was very spooky and across the pond. I think we'll see lots of cool stuff in this pond when the water warms a little. Hopefully some diamondback terrapins.

A Northern Red Bellied Cooter across the pond

We made it out to beach and started looking. Neither of us were really sure what we were looking for. The teeth are usually tiny and there are a lot of shell fragments and junk in the wave wash. The experienced fossil hunters use a clam rake with 1/8 - 1/4" mesh screening. We just brought a couple of white plastic colanders. I'd scoop a bunch of junk from the water, swirl it around to get rid of the sand, and check for treasures. Nothing. At least at first. Then, I found my first one. Of course, I only found one more, and my wife found 5, but at least we had broken the ice. We also found some coral and assorted other "stuff"

The real fossil hounds can tell you the species of shark by looking at the tooth. I can't - at least not yet. But I can definitely see myself getting immersed in this hobby, and soon enough I'll know what it is that I'm looking at. I do know that they are from the Miocene Epoch, and are about 17 million years old.

There's something about finding 17 million year old teeth that I find fascinating.

While this is a departure from my usual fishing rambling, I hope you find some degree of interest in it. It still revolves around my love of the Flowing Waters - tides, this time, instead of streams. I still plan to fish as much as I can, and have some trips planned for this summer (Including fishing at least 3 of the states I need to fill my 50 state quest) but I'm sure I'll spend plenty of time looking for teeth this year. Follow along - might be fun!


EcoRover said...

Very cool finds and I like your method too. Looks like the fishing might be good to0?

Howard Levett said...

Hey that is very cool. Just the kind of hobby I could get into. Welcome back to the blogging world!

Shoreman said...

Hi Joe. Definately a fun hobby. Interesting thing about shark teeth, is that you can rub your fingers across it and it won't hurt you, but it will shave the hair off your arm. Odd but true.


Passinthru Outdoors said...

Very interesting stuff. Best of luck in your new adventures. Thanks for sharing.

Passinthru Outdoors Blog - Sharing the Passion

Chris Clemons said...

I picked up your blog and had read you lived in NY at one point and fished cathrine creek. I run a blog and have fished the creek for many years check it out

Douglas said...

Is Texas on your list of fishing destinations this year?

River Mud said...

Joe, even better are some of the privately owned shorelines where you can still climb around and find 1' cubic hunks of coral, dolphin vertebrae, etc. Calvert Cliffs is a shadow of what it once was to fossil collectors due to "people dying from fossil rock hitting them in the head" or some other such wussy nonsense.

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CrazyCris said...

I used to love fossils as a kid! You're lucky you can find such cool ones so close to home! :o)