I smiled upon hearing Woody doing his thing. The cartoon character, Woody Woodpecker, was much like a Pileated Woodpecker, not a Red-bellied Woodpecker, but my new pal was getting the name, Woody, anyway. Friends of mine and I had seen him flying through the neighborhood and into the trees. How could I not be in a good mood upon hearing his hollow knocking? Woody made my trip to the beach enjoyable.
I paced a six-block area of the beach after accessing it at 67th Avenue North, finding ten small teeth along the surf over the course of an hour. After speaking briefly with Butch, a fellow collector, I staggered to a shell bed in front of lifeguard stand 70. A wave pushed a nearly-perfect, two-inch great white tooth onto a mass of bigger shells right at my feet.
Butch is a real fossil enthusiast and a heck of a nice guy, so I knew he would appreciate examining the specimen. He congratulated me.
“I guess I have to stop my bellyaching now, at least for awhile,” I said to him. He laughed.
Finding a big, nicely-shaped shark’s tooth is a rarity along the Grand Strand. It’s a matter of being at the right place at the right time.
One must consider the odds of a fossilized tooth making it to shore intact.
First, they must be buried beneath the ocean floor for tens of thousands of years. That’s where permineralization occurs. A tooth exposed on the ocean floor would be devoured by all sorts of organisms.
Once fossilized, the teeth move about in underwater currents and are often reburied several times. Who knows how many times a tooth knocks into coral, rocks and shells before gracing the shores?
Many of the sharks teeth found along the Grand Strand are dredged with sands a mile off shore during beach renourishment projects and pumped onto the existing beach through big pipes. How a tooth survives that leg of the journey is beyond me.
So, I got lucky upon making my latest find. Real lucky.
On my way home, Woody or one of his pals was pecking away in that same wooded lot.
“Thank you, my fine feathered friend,” I said. “May you fill your stomach with many insects. And your next wood-boring beetle is on me.”