Hunting for Shark Teeth and Other Beach Treasures on Topsail Island


Check out this guest blog post from Tom of Tom's Teeth: Topsail Island Fossil Education. He's a local expert on all things shark-tooth-related, that you can be sure of. Read on for the best tips and information on Topsail shark tooth hunting from someone who's seen, collected and researched a whole lot of shark teeth on the beaches of Topsail Island. 

Ever wonder what beach combers are searching for as they walk at the edge of the ocean with their heads peering sand ward? It could be anything really; shells, rocks, sea glass or even Blackbeard's gold. 

But for most Topsail Island NC visitors, the treasure they seek is shark teeth. Shark teeth come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They can vary in color from grey, black, brown, to even red.

Photo Credit: Tom's Teeth

Topsail Island's Prehistoric Layer

Our local beaches are unique to this part of the country in that teeth, fossils, and bones regularly wash up on our shores. There is a prehistoric layer that is constantly eroding off our coast from wave action and that brings teeth onto our local sands.

Depending on the wave direction and tides, the beach can be littered with teeth or sometimes there's none to be found at all. The best time to find them is usually at low tide in the many piles of shells and other assorted things that wash up on shore. After big storms or hurricanes, the beaches will have copious amounts of large fossil rocks and even prehistoric oysters as large as a shoe. Every couple of years, someone usually finds a mastodon tooth or fossil horse tooth that makes it out of the fossil layer onto the beach.

Photo Credit: Tom's Teeth

Finding Shark Teeth on Topsail's Beaches

When it comes to finding shark teeth and other beach treasures, it takes time. You have to be patient and enjoy the experience. Most people will not walk right out and find a Megalodon shark tooth the size of their hand like the ones the offshore divers find. There have been people living on this island for decades who haven't found a tooth that size. You will however, usually find a decent amount of teeth, averaging about the size of a dime. 

There are always a few other things you will pick up that look like teeth but may not be. These things are usually fossil bone fragments or conveniently shaped pieces of broken shells.

Old timers tell tales of beaches riddled with teeth. I have run across many bottles and glass bowls sitting on coffee tables filled to the brim with years' worth of collecting. It's not really like that anymore and I think it's because so many more visitors are enjoying the hobby. The rarity of several different types of teeth, and the fact of being the first human to ever touch it when you pluck it from the sand, makes finding teeth even more special.

Photo Credit: Tom's Teeth

The Shark Tooth Hunting Experience

The serenity of the waves and the smell of the ocean makes even a slow day of teeth hunting worthwhile. Locals and tourists alike love spilling their finds on the kitchen table and sharing stories of just how it was lying on the beach when they picked it up. Comparing shapes and sizes and talking about the journey each uniquely shaped triangle took to make it into the palm of your hand brings the story full circle.

Shark teeth hunting is for everyone, young and old. I even know a few parents and grandparents who find teeth and drop them in front of their kids just to see the joy on their faces when they find them. That still counts as treasure hunting, too.

Special thanks to Tom's Teeth Topsail Island Shark Teeth for this guest blog post. Learn more about shark teeth hunting and identifying your Topsail beach treasure at Also check out Tom's Teeth on Facebook.

Have you done any shark tooth hunting during your Topsail Beach vacation?

Let us know! We'd love to see a photo of what you found. Drop it into our comment section below. Happy hunting!

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