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Tips on Shark Tooth Hunting By: Ashley Oliphant 1. Timing is everything. I like to be out when the tide is falling because when the water is pulling over those shell beds, shark teeth will actually shine brighter and they move differently in the water than a shell does.

Oliphant found her first shark tooth at age 14 and has been on the hunt ever since.

When Oliphant was little, she and her father, Joe Yarbrough, would walk along the beach looking for

as well as how and where to find them. She also included detailed sections about how to identify shark teeth, how to display them and the Top 10 Things You Should Know about Sharks in the Carolinas. Oliphant says that the best place to look for shark teeth in the Carolinas is Cherry Grove, South Carolina because of the fossil deposits and sediments in that area. “There are fossils all over the sandhills of North Carolina. They’re just pockets that get washed out in a better way, and what we see in the southern part of the North Carolina coast and north of South Carolina is a big area of wash out from the Miocene and Pliocene eras, which were time periods when there were tons of sharks,” she explains. “So you’ve got that happening, plus the wash out. That creates the good hunting.”

Solving mysteries

Though Shark Tooth Hunting on the Carolina Coast involved a lot of research, Oliphant completed the book in a year. “Once I decide on something, I become so passionate about it that

3. You need to look for shape, so it’s good to see some shark teeth in person if you’ve never hunted before. You need to familiarize yourself with the angles because that’s basically what you’re looking for. 4. Having good gear is important. If you’re just learning, you’re going to be bending over a lot to pick things up. It helps to have a scooper. (My husband and I actually make them and sell them at festivals. It’s a modified golf club.) It’s also important to have a waterproof beach necklace to put them in. That will allow you to be hands free. (You can find them at beach stores.) 5. Go out on the beach after a big storm for good hunting conditions. 6. Hunting is better with a full moon. I book my vacations on full moons. 7. Get yourself a tide chart. Don’t waste time heading to the beach if it’s high tide. There will be very few areas to search. You need the beach. 8. Location is very important. If you spend a week up in the Outer Banks looking, you probably aren’t going to find anything. Being in the right location like Cherry Grove is going to make a difference. Make sure you put yourself in a location where there are a lot of fossils washing up. 9. I always have the best luck in the morning. 10. Don’t forget to check the tidal pools because that’s a good place to find shark teeth.


Finding a lifelong hobby

interesting things. Those walks led to searching for shark teeth. When Oliphant was 14, she found her first shark tooth at South Carolina’s Windy Hill Beach. “We [she and her father] just sort of happened upon it and didn’t realize that the beach we were looking on was a good place to be looking for shark teeth, but there it was,” she recalls. “By the time I got to be a young adult, I had all of these shark teeth and I wanted to know more about them and started looking for sources and was hitting dead ends.” All of the books she found were too scientific or didn’t pertain to the geographic area in which she was looking. “They didn’t have good pictures to compare to what I’d found, to what the species were,” recalls Oliphant. “I just decided that there needs to be a shark tooth book for everybody who is interested in this hobby that’s very easy to understand.” In 2015, Pineapple Press published Oliphant’s book, Shark Tooth Hunting on the Carolina Coast. The 129-page book is easily accessible, as it explains what shark teeth are,

JUNE 2019

shley Oliphant credits her father with cultivating her curiosity. And the more you talk with her, the more you realize what a good job he did. For example, as Chair of the English Department and the Humanities Department at Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, Oliphant is an expert on Ernest Hemingway. The Denver resident (Lincolnton native) is active in the Hemingway Society and has been published in the Hemingway Review. She was inspired to write the book Hemingway and Bemini — The Birth of Sport Fishing at The End of the World (published in 2017) because she didn’t believe that Hemingway never returned to Bimini after 1937. Her curiosity proved that he did. Not many people would let a question result in a book, but that’s how Oliphant operates, and she’s done it more than once.

2. Color is important. The vast majority, probably 99 percent of the teeth that you find are black. Those are the easiest ones to see, and the water makes that ever more visible because when they get dried out on the beach they kind of become the same color as oyster shell, and it makes it difficult to see.

Profile for Lake Norman Currents

Lake Norman Currents Magazine June 2019  

The Magazine for the people of Lake Norman by the people of Lake Norman.

Lake Norman Currents Magazine June 2019  

The Magazine for the people of Lake Norman by the people of Lake Norman.