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Fossils that can be found at the Calvert Cliffs of MD
Chesapeake Bay Data: Tides, Winds, Weather, Sea Nettles, etc...
View Collecting Trip Reports from the Calvert Cliffs
Printable Identification Fossil Sheets for Vertebrates and Invertebrates of the Calvert Cliffs
Calvert Cliffs Coffee Club Coffee Cups!
A unique gift for the fossil hunter.
"The MegaMug" Megalodon Travel Mug!
Nearby Shark Tooth Collecting Location:
Potomac River, MD
Shark Tooth Collecting Location:
PCS Mine, Aurora, NC
Shark Tooth Collecting Location:
Big Brook in NJ
Fossil Shark Gallery
Megalodon Shark Page
Everything about Megalodons!
Megalodon Size vs Tooth Size
Facts and Information about the Miocene Shark Toothed Whale
The Long-Snouted Dolphin
Calvert Cliffs of Maryland
~ 22-8 Million Years Old
Early to Middle Miocene
Chesapeake Group: Calvert, Choptank, and St. Mary's Formations
This is your place to travel for Miocene fossil hunting, including megalodon fossil shark teeth!
Calvert Cliffs Fossils Page Map:
"Panoramic view of the Calvert Cliffs of Maryland"
The Fossil bearing cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay is a great place to be outdoors. They are a very beautiful and scenic place to collect at. These cliffs also contain Megalodon fossil shark teeth.
"View of the Miocene Fossil Cliffs. This area along the Chesapeake bay is ideal for fossil hunting"
"Another view of the Cliffs"
"Sunrise along the Clavert Cliffs, Getting ready to fossil hunt"
"Winter Fossil Collecting"
This is a short video from a recent fossil Shark tooth hunt along the Miocene Calvert formation
About the Calvert Cliffs of Maryland
The fossil bearing Calvert Cliffs of Maryland is part of a large collection of fossiliferous exposures, called the Chesapeake Group, that encompass exposures around the Chesapeake bay, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. These exposures were created by sediment accumulation in the Salisbury Embayment, an area encompassing the Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia coastal plains which is often covered by the ocean (Kent, 1994, p.111).
The Calvert Cliffs run for roughly 24 miles from near Chesapeake Beach to Drum Point on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland in Calvert County. These cliffs contain an amazing Miocene fauna. More than 600 species of fossil plants and animals have been found here (Glaser, 1979, p.56). Among these countless species, are a wide variety of marine animals such as porpoises, whales, seals, sea turtles, sea cows, and crocodiles. Also, parts of land mammals are occasionally found, the most common being the peccary; a pig like animal. However, more interesting creatures have been found, such as mastodons, wooly rhinos, and camels. Also, the cliffs boast an extremely diverse sea life, from countless genera of sharks and rays (including C. megalodon), to many kinds of fish. Most of these fossils are found as bone fragments, and isolated teeth.
Around this time in the early to middle Miocene, the Salisbury Embayment was a shallow sea; specifically the Calvert Sea, the Choptank Sea, and finally the St. Mary's sea (depending on the age). The Salisbury Embayment is thought to have been used as a calving ground for many species of porpoises and whales. Since there were so many marine mammals here, the largest of prehistoric sharks, the Megatooth sharks (including C. megalodon), spent a lot of time feeding here. Also, the climate was warmer than it is now. So, on the shore, a diversity of plants grew here, from Cyprus trees to Oak trees.
This is a great destination to travel to if you are looking for Fossil shark teeth!
St. Mary's Formation is roughly 8 - 12 million years old
Choptank Formation is roughly 12 - 18 million years old
Calvert Formation is roughly 18 - 22 million years old
This is a rough map of Calvert County showing the Miocene Geologic Formaitons that run along the Calvert Cliffs
Each Formation is layered on top of the other, with the youngest on top. However, these Miocene deposits are slightly
tilted, gradually dipping toward the ground as one moves south, approximately 10 feet per mile (Gernant,1970,p.6).
This results in the Calvert Formation going completely underground around Scientists Cliffs, and the Choptank Formation going underground
near Cove Point. Basically, what this means is the further south one goes, the younger the deposits get (almost like a time machine),
as shown on the map.
Fossil Shark Tooth Collecting Sites along the Calvert Cliffs and Chesapeake Bay
The Calvert Cliffs area is a great place to take your family fossil hunting - Kids love finding the fossil shark teeth.
Below is a list of available fossil collecting locations along the cliffs of Maryland in no particualar order (linked to locations when available).
Also, remember the cliffs can be dangerous. Please adhear to the following guidelines:
Keep your distance from the cliffs, they fall all the time!!!
Do not dig in the cliffs! This is illegal on federal and state lands. If it is private property you must get permission.
Unfortunately, there are not many public access sites. Here are a few of them.
Also, please check ahead to make sure the times the fossil collecting locaitons are open did not change
Site 1: Brownies Beach/Randle Cliff and/or Bayfront Park
This beach has an identity crisis. The name is different depending on who you ask. It is officially called Bayfront Park.
- If you are not a county resident there is a fee during the summer. Refer to the fee sign for prices, dates, etc...
- Calvert Formation is exposed.
- Most fossils here are smaller than usual, but it's a nice place to collect at.
- Just ~ 1/4 to 1/2 mile south of Chesapeake Beach on rt. 261, there is small shoulder on the road with a little entrance to a paved parking lot, then a paved walkway to the beach.
- The beach is very narrow, and becomes submerged in high tide, so make sure you arrive at low tide.
|Site 2: Calvert Cliffs State Park
- St. Marys Formation is exposed. A very nice park that allows collecting at a VERY tiny beach.
- There is a 2 mile? scenic hike to get to the beach.
- Small Park Enterance Fee.
- Collecting under cliffs here is illegal
- On Rt. 2/4, 5 miles N. of Solomons, you will see signs for it.
|Site 3: Flag Ponds Nature Park
- There is no cliff access at this park. However, some fossils can be found washing in the surf.
- Small fee
- Open Memorial Day to Labor Day and Weekends in Winter
- On route 2/4, 9 miles N. of Solomons, you will see signs for it.
|Site 4: Breezy Point Beach and Campground
- Fossils wash up from the Calvert Formation The Beach is small, and no cliffs are present.
Therefore, the teeth found are the TINY ones that wash up from other locations. However,
it's a convenient place to camp at if you are collecting at the cliffs for a few days.
- Small Entrance Fee
- Open April 15 to October 15
- On Rt. 261, a few miles south of Chesapeake Beach, turn onto Breezy Point Rd.
Site 5: Westmoreland State Park in VA
- This is not at the Calvert Cliffs, but it has the same cliff formations present. They are called the Horsehead Cliffs.
- Cliff access is prohibited, however, they have a nice "fossil beach" next to the cliffs where fossils can be found.
- The park also offers a "Fossils, Fun and Fitness River Kayak Trip." This kayak trip is offered Wednesdays, Sundays, and some Saturdays.
It takes you below the Horsehead cliffs to a beach with fossils.
- Small Fee. Use the link above to see hours, fees, maps, directions, and more information.
|Site 6: Calvert Marine Museum
Not a site, but they have scheduled fossil collecting tours. They also have a HUGE fossil exhibit from the cliffs that is worth a visit.
The museum is in Solomons. To get to Solomons, on Rt. 2-4 S, Bear right (onto Rt. 2) just before crossing the large bridge leading to St. Marys county.
View a Sample of Fossils Found at the Calvert Cliffs:
If you plan on collecting shark fossils at the cliffs, or need Calvert fossils identified, this is your place. click the image below!
Recommended Fossil Collecting Equipment:
Small shovel and Sifter with a 1/8" - 1/4" screen.
Remember, it is illegal to dig in the cliffs. Plus they fall all the time, you want to stay away from them.
The small shovel is for screening. Go to the surf, where you see pebbles and small rocks, toss a shovel full in your sifter and see what fossils you get!
Felt bottomed waders are now illegal in Maryland. They help spread some kind of invasive algae. Use non-felt lined waders
Waders are common sense for colder weather, however, in the summer, if you want to not get stung by sea nettles, waders are still a good idea.
Anytime you are outdoors, you should have adequate amounts of water, insect repellent, some food, sunscreen, and a hat! There's often no shade along the beachs.
Cell Phone/Contact Person
If you're in a remote spot, make sure someone knows where you are or have a cell phone with reception.
You never know when you will be ambushed by a Megalodon, and need to seek medical attention.
After a few mishaps with my cellphone fossil hunting in the rivers and bay, I now highly recommend a cheap waterproof case. I have this one:
I often see collectors who look like they are hiking the appalachian trail for 6 months. Don't overdo it. You want to have fun while collecting. You don't want to have to carry 30 pounds of MRE's, 2 tents, a kitchen table, 3 changes of clothes, a rubber ducky, etc...
Idealy, you want to pack light and come home heavy with shark teeth and other fossils.
Other Fossil Hunting Recommendations for the Calvert Cliffs
- Make sure you check the tides, winds, and weather for the bay before collecting.
If you show up at high tide, the collecting beach may be submerged!
Here is a page where you can find all of the Meteorological data.
- Stay away from the base of the cliffs. Large chunks that could turn you into a pancake fall off quite often.
- It is best to collect at low tide, so check the tide charts.
- Walk along the shore slowly, the teeth are mixed in with shell fragments and small pebbles, making them hard to spot. If you are not careful, you will walk over many of the teeth.
- Beware of the swarms of biting flies and stinging jellyfish in late summer!!!
|Recommended Books for Calvert Cliffs - Miocene Fossils:
|Fossils of Calvert Cliffs
by Wallace L. Ashby
Calvert Marine Museum Press.
A highly recommended book for beginning collectors, and collectors new to the cliffs.
This book can be bought at the Calvert Marine Museum, or ordered online from the museum.
||Fossil Shark Teeth of the World
, A Collector's Guide
by Joe Cocke
A great book for identifying all those teeth. This book is laid out "as simple as possible." It's ease of use and small size makes it great to carry during collecting trips.
||Fossil Sharks of the Chesapeake Bay Region
by Bretton W. Kent
Egan Rees & Boyer, Inc
A great book for identifying all those teeth. A must for any beginner collector that fossil hunts in the Maryland/Virginia area.
Unfortunately, this book is out of print. For deals on used ones, look here: Fossil Sharks of the Chesapeake Bay Region
|Seal/Dolphin ~ Phoca/Stenella: A Skeletal Comparison of Two Marine Mammals
by John R. Timmerman
North Carolina Fossil Club Inc.
This is a very good book if you want to attempt to identify the numerous bone fragments encountered at this site.
This book can be purchased through the North Carolina Fossil Club - When at their website, click on the
||Megalodon: Hunting the Hunter
by Mark Renz
Lehigh Acres, FL
A Great new book about megatoothed sharks. A nice read for anyone interested in megalodons.
It has sections dedicated to megalodon evolution, extinction, pathologies, and locations of meg fossil-hunting grounds around the world.
|Great Links to Visit for Calvert Cliffs Fossils:
- Calvert Marine Museum
The local Museum with a numerous fossil displays from the cliffs. A must visit if you are going to collect at the Calvert Cliffs.
A site made by 3 collectors who live in the bay area. They have some Phat fossils from the bay and other areas on the east coast.
Links For Kids By Kids!
- iKatelin.com - Rock, Fossil, and Shell Collecting
Kids Katelin and Will share their Fossil Adventures to places like Brownies Beach and Matoaka Cottages along the Calvert Cliffs! They also have sections on rocks and sea shells!