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Guide to Fossil Shark Teeth Hunting at Amelia Island


Shark Tooth Hunting

Amelia Island Florida

Amelia Island Forecast

Fossil Shark Tooth Hunting Guide to Amelia Island

~ 20 to ~2.6 Million Years Old
Middle Miocene to Pleistocene
Unconsolidated Pleistocene Layers of Sand and Gravel
Ice Age: ~2.6 million to 11,700 years ago

Remember to get your FOSSIL PERMIT before vertebrate fossil hunting in Florida. Shark teeth collecting is allowed without a Permit.

A fossil gray shark tooth (carcharhinus sp.) on the beach at Amelia Island

The three people squatting in the center of the photo are looking for shark teeth along the high tide debris mark. Further north is better for shark teeth, but they are also found here.

The author with a few shark teeth from beachcombing at low tide around Fort Clinch on Amelia Island.

The best areas to search for shark teeth on and around Amelia Island

Fossil shark teeth can be found all around the beaches of Amelia Island. There are, however, better areas than others to find them.

Fort Clinch State Park:
Shark teeth wash down from the St. Marys river where currents bring them onto the beaches. This means the northern part of Amelia Island, near Fort Clinch State Park, is better for shark teeth. The St Marys river inlet is also an important entrance channel for submarines at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, so the inlet is kept deep by regular dredging. The sand and shark teeth removed from the dredging process is directed to the beach next to Fort Clinch and is usually the best area for shark tooth hunting.

The St. Marys inlet at Fort Clinch State Park is just 2 miles north of the Main Beach Park. Free parking is available at Main Beach Park with a 2 mile walk north to Fort Clinch. A faster way is to pay a small entrance fee and drive to the northern end of Ft. Clinch State Park. Their website for more information including up to date hours, fees, and other info is here: Fort Clinch State Park.

Beach Renourishment areas:
Besides inlet dredging every few years, every 10 years there will be a beach replenishment program that pumps shark teeth filled sand onto the beaches further south. The areas where the renourishment is occurring or has occured during the past year or so are good places to look for shark teeth.

Cumberland Island:
Just across the inlet from Amelia Island is undeveloped Cumberland Island. This National seashore is also a great place to find shark teeth. Although teeth can be found along the beaches near the inlet, teeth are easier to find on the sandy roads around the island! The roads are graded with sand dredged from the inlet. Walking the roads can yield a small collection of shark teeth. Although it is a National Park, shark teeth colecting is permitted. The island is not developed so there is no food or other amenities available, but it makes for a nice daytrip out in nature if vacationing at Amelia Island.

To get to Cumberland Island, head to St. Marys just across the Florida-Georgia line. A Ferry to the island is adjacent to the Cumberland Island National Seashore Visitor Center in historic downtown St. Marys, GA. Check in advance for hours of operation, tickets, island fees, and other pertinant info here: Cumberland Island Ferry.

When and how to hunt for shark teeth?

Searching for the shark teeth is very simple, just beachcomb and look for black triangular objects. It's best to hunt near the waters edge at low tide and in tide mark areas along the beach where shells and pebbles have congregated, often teeth will be mixed with them. The beach is very wide along Amelia, so there can be multiple areas of shells and pebbles to search. After a storm is also a great time to hunt (as long as it is safe). Storms cause the fossils in the water to get tossed onto the beach. Just be careful of strong currents and waves after a storm, as this is the Atlantic side of Florida, not the Gulf side!

Finally, the winter and spring tend to be a little better for finding shark teeth as this is the off-tourist season, so there are less beachgoers looking for teeth.

Shark Tooth Ages and Shark Tooth Identification:

The shark teeth and other fossils come from the Miocene aged Hawthorn Group and also some Pliocene and Pleistocene deposits from the St. Marys river and nearshore. The age range is around 20 million years old to the Ige Age (10,000 years old).

The image below shows examples of shark teeth that can be found. More detailed ID images of individual species continue below:

Common shark teeth fossils of Amelia Island, Florida

Megalodon shark teeth fossils from Amelia Island, Florida
These are the largest teeth found at Amelia. Although they can get quite large, usually teeth less than 3 inches in size are found here. They are often worn and broken. A key to identifying these teeth is they are thick, have fine serrations, and have a bourlette, which is a a wide striated gap between the root from the enamel.

For much more info on Megalodon sharks, including additional fossil ID and species, go to the Megalodon Shark Page.

Great White shark teeth fossils of Amelia Island, Florida
These are the second largest teeth found at Amelia. They tend to be more common than megalodon teeth here. A key to identifying Great Whites is they have very coarse and irregular serrations, the teeth are rather thin, and unlike megalodon, they do not have a bourlette.

For much more info on Prehistoric White sharks, including additional fossil ID and species, go to the Prehistoric White Shark Page.

Extinct White shark teeth fossils of Amelia Island, Florida
These are also common teeth to find at Amelia Island. They look very similar to Great Whites, but they do not have serrations.

For much more info on Prehistoric White sharks, including additional fossil ID and species, go to the Prehistoric White Shark Page.

Common Grey shark teeth fossils of Amelia Island, Florida
These are probably the most abundant teeth at Amelia. They are usually 1/2 inch or less. Upper teeth are broad and triangular, while lower teeth are more "T" shaped. There are many species of Grey shark, the image show the three most common ones found here, Bull, Dusky, and Sandbar shark.

For much more info on Grey sharks, including additional fossil ID and species, go to the Grey Shark Page.

Sand Tiger shark teeth fossils of Amelia Island, Florida
These are also very common teeth to find at Amelia. They have a long and narrow blade, and sometimes have small cusps.

The Snaggletooth shark has easily identifyable teeth. Uppers are broad with very coarse serrations, while lowers look similar to Sand Tigers, but have a more broad enamel and a large protuberance on the root.

For much more info on Snaggletooth sharks, including additional fossil ID and species, go to the Snaggletooth Shark Page.

Tiger shark teeth fossils of Amelia Island, Florida
Tiger shark teeth are very easy to identify, as they have a completely different shape than most other shark teeth. They have square root lobes, coarse serrations on their eamel shoulders, and serrations on their outer enamel sides.

For much more info on Tiger sharks, including additional fossil ID and species, go to the Tiger Shark Page.

Lemon sharks teeth are found on Amelia Island. They look similar to lower Grey shark teeth, but the blade is usually a bit longer and they do not have serrations.

These are other common fish fossils from Amelia Island, Florida. Included are shark and fish vertebra, fish skull pieces, and ray teeth and spine pieces.

Bone fragments also commonly wash up in the surf at Amelia Island. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and are usually impossible to ID. Many bone pieces come from fossil whale bone that breaks apart in the surf.

Recommended Books for Amelia Island and Florida Fossils

Fossiling in Florida: A Guide for Diggers and Divers
This book is from Mark Renz, the author of the Megalodon book. It mainly concentrates on the Pleistocene fauna, but if you want to identify more than just the common shark fossils, this is your book!
This book is a great resource book. It has a 34 page identification section in it!

Florida Fossil Shark Teeth Identification Guide
If you want to ID more than just the most common shark teeth in Florida, this is the book for you. It's a small illustrated book of the many different teeth that can be found. It's great for ID'ing your finds!

Get Your Very Own Megalodon Tooth:

These are Authentic Megalodon teeth sold by Fossil Era , a reputable fossil dealer (that I personally know) who turned his fossil passion into a business. His Megalodon teeth come in all sizes and prices, from small and inexpensive to large muesum quality teeth. Each tooth has a detailed descriptions and images that include its collecting location and formation. If you are looking for a megalodon tooth, browse through these selections!

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