Over the years I’ve hunted sharks teeth at night at least 100 times, scouring the beach with a flashlight, sweeping its diffused beam back and forth across the pulverized sediments of time.
Yes, I’m certifiable. No, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone go beachcombing alone on our shores at night.
There are too many parasitic transients living here now — many of whom are looking for their next fix — to risk human interaction on our darkened shores. The Tidal Eyechart documents robberies on the beach quite often. Some people insist on being barnacles on our sinking society.
My obsession with fossils, however, won’t permit me to stop now. The uncertainty of nightfall adds to my hobby’s allure. Perhaps I’m a lycanthrope; there’s something in the moonlight that hounds me.
A few years back, I trained my flashlight on an arrowhead, and its chiseled edges couldn’t have been more distinct. What a rush. It’s one of my most treasured relics and one of just two pointed projectiles in my collection. The other — found in Surfside Beach under the guidance of Ra — is much more worn.
Midnight madness has also resulted in the addition of several nice-sized, great white sharks teeth to my collection as well as somewhere around 1,000 smaller fossils. I’ve often seen crabs that I’ve never seen in the day. So, I’m not the only one who is nocturnal.
Fossil hunting at dark-thirty is generally more challenging because one’s peripheral vision is limited. In the brightness of daylight, the sheen of sharks teeth enables me to spot them resting several feet to one side of me or the other.
Before closing, I’ll relay one rather humorous encounter that I had about five years ago. It was one in the morning and a young male tourist sprinted by me in his birthday suit. A half hour later, friends of his approached me carrying his garb.
“He went that way,” I said, pointing north along the beach.
“He’s a little messed up,” one of his friends admitted.
“Really? I thought he was just an exhibitionist.”
So, if you’re feeling froggy, grab yourself an Everlast, a pair of brass knuckles or a nightstick, and go to it. Remember, business is picking up.