Blackwater Diving for Fossils in South Carolina
This is a ~4 minute video of the Blackwater Fossil Dive. If you want to know what it's like to Blackwater dive, check it out!
The Blackwater Trip Report
I've been itching to try some Blackwater diving for a while for two reasons. The first reason is the fossils! Since many of the mines across the country have closed their doors to fossil hunters, although very dangerous, Blackwater diving is now one of the best chances to find a large complete megalodon shark tooth. The second reason is Charleston! It's a great city to spend a few days in eating raw oysters, enjoying rooftop bars that overlook the Cooper, and visiting the many little museums dotted around the city. So even if no fossils are found, it's an enjoyable trip!
Unfortunately, South Carolina has had unusually large amounts of rainfall all spring and summer. This caused the river levels to be too high to dive. At high river levels, the currents become too strong to stay on the bottom. By mid-summer, they were still getting a lot of rain. I contacted Lee Cone of Friends of the Aurora Fossil Museum to see if it was feasible to dive. He looked into some diving locations and set a diving date! The rains just had to hold off for a while so we could dive. With Hobby license in hand, Amy and I headed to South Carolina.
On the day of the dive, it was pouring down rain. Hoping not to get a cancellation phone call, we met Lee and Donnie at the docks for the dive trip. It wasn't thundering, so the dive was on. After boating to the spot and arriving precisely at the correct tide, we jumped in and descended the anchor line onto a large gravel bed.
The gravel beds contain mostly broken fossils, but occasionally whole ones are found. Unfortunately, by the end of the dive, no one had found any large whole shark teeth, just some smaller ones. On deck, we waited for the tides to reverse, so we could do a second dive.
When it was time to jump back in, we hit a series of unfortunate events. While descending the anchor line, the anchor came loose, and the boat with everyone dangling onto the anchor line for dear life got sucked downstream out of the gravel area. After recovering and getting set back up, we tried again. This time the currents were really picking up. Amy jumped in first. We never saw her surface to go to the anchor line. With everyone scratching their heads, we finally saw a little dot way behind the boat getting sucked downstream. Apparently she missed the anchor line while jumping in. After recovering the flotsam, and apologizing for us Northerners' poor diving skills, we tried a third time. This time we all made it to the gravel beds. Again, mainly broken teeth and only a few small complete teeth were recovered.
The highlight was at the very end of the dive when Lee was coming up to the boatâ€¦ The look on his face when a large alligator swam by (it's at the end of the video)... That look may have been worth more than finding a large megalodon!
Thank you Lee and Donnie for taking us Northerners out to your Blackwater rivers!
Below are pictures of the dive trip!
Charleston and the Mace Brown Museum
Charleston is known for great food and raw oysters! I found this little coffe shop, Tricera Coffee, that has a small Triceratops fossil on display (part of a leg bone?) and a bunch of little Triceratops dinosaurs to play with! Oh, and it has good coffee!
A trip to Charleston is not complete without visiting Sarah and Bobby, the Paleontologist duo at the Mace Brown Museum. This small museum is awesome! It has a large collection of south Carolina Cetaceans. The center one, which is being prepped, was a baleen whale that had little vestigle teeth in the front of it's jaws!
This is awesome! Bobby and Sarah recently finished prepping this beast and put it on display. It's the most complete baleen whale ever collected from the PCS Mine in Aurora, NC. Also, it was collected by Lee Cone of Friends of the Aurora Fossil Museum!
The Blackwater Dive and the Fossils!
This is a complete 2 1/4" C. angustidens tooth lying on the bottom of the river. It's a predecessor to C. megalodon.
This is a 3" Great White shark tooth in pristine condition that Donnie found a little bit later! WOW!
These are some of our finds from the trip. There's a big beat up 3" mako toward the center of the image!
Recommended Book for Carolina Fossil Collecting:
Shark Tooth Hunting on the Carolina Coast
by Ashley Oliphant, 2015
This is a great field guide for locating and identifying fossil shark teeth on the beaches of North and South Carolina. It's great if your interested in finding shark teeth in the Carolinas. It is filled with clear photographs and easy to read descriptions.
There's not too many books about North and South Carolina Sharks teeth. This one is pretty good!