A lot of beachcombers think tropical storms and hurricanes result in massive shell and fossil deposits along the Grand Strand. Not necessarily so.
Many storms render the shore bare. Yesterday — with Hurricane Sandy leaving town — I hit the beach at sunrise, knowing that high tide would fall shortly after daybreak. Daggone, it was chilly out there, especially for idiots like me who just had to wade in the surf while hunting sharks’ teeth.
My walking stick made for a good brace with which to fight a strong undertow. Five and six-foot waves had churned sand and silt, turning the ocean copper-toned. There were times when the waves attacked the beach in long, straight rows with thunderous intensity.
Hurricane Sandy’s outer bands were still visible as she slowly moved away from shore. Frankenstorm (or the bride of) left minor beach erosion in her wake. Waves flowed to within 15 feet of the dunes. Ebbing tides gouged sand trenches and left behind a few, steep, berm dropoffs (small walls).
I found eight tiny teeth in two hours as the tide fell. There were few shell beds through which to look.
And now for something completely different — as was often broadcast on the British Broadcasting Company’s Monty Python show.
In my last blog, after studying pictures of the bite mark left on the surfboard of a California man killed in a shark encounter, I boldly said that the man was killed by a 14-to-15-foot great white shark.
I wrote that blog early on October 25 and published it just after midnight on October 26. After hitting the sack, I awoke at 6:30 a.m. and went to the beach for a bit. No shell beds and my bounty included two sharks’ teeth and an olive shell. I limped back to my pad after 45 minutes of walking circles in the sand and researched the fatal shark incident on the internet. I read, while scanning an article published by a left coast newspaper, that the “experts” had just announced that the man was, indeed, killed by a great white that was roughly 15-feet-long.
My assessment was pretty good for a crusty old guy, right?
How did I know? Well, a great white bite extends farther out than that of a tiger shark. Tiger sharks will eat almost anything, but their wider mouths are tailor-made for biting through sea turtle shells.
In addition, if one looks closely at the Associated Press picture (which I, cough, borrowed for my previous blog), he or she can see two-inch, triangular chunks taken out of the poor victim’s surfboard. Tiger shark teeth are not long and triangular.
I also used a little common sense for once. Great whites hunt seals and sea lions and California has pretty big populations of both.
If you hear a noise, that’s me patting myself on the back for a good call. No applause, please, just throw money.
So, this morning, when I went out beachcombing, I was hoping there would be more shell beds. Nada. As in: not a thing to find. You know what Einstein said about someone who does the same thing over and over again and expects different results? Yeah, that’s me.