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Finding Shark Teeth while Kayaking on the Peace River


Peace River Fossil Hunting

Peace River Fossil Hunting

Photo © by George E. Sayour

The 106 mile long Peace River has a long and rich history in the state of Florida. Among the accolades this blackwater river and piece of natural history has is that the banks and bed of this river are just loaded with fossilized sharks teeth and prehistoric mammal fossils. This brings fossil hunters, tourists, nature lovers, and paddlers all to the Peace River to try their hands at being archaeologists as they unearth these remnants and reminders of a world long past. Here are some fossil and shark teeth hunting tips for your next canoe or kayak trip down Florida’s Peace River.

The Right Water Depth to Kayak and Find Shark Teeth

Water depth for fossil hunting very much needs to be in a sweet spot. If the water is too deep you won’t be able to efficiently dig in the bed of the river. If the water is too shallow you won’t be able to paddle your canoe or kayak to the areas where you want to get. The best depth is therefore when the river has around 2 feet of water in the shallow spots. This way the river is navigable in the deeper areas.

How to Pick a Place to Fossil and Shark Tooth Hunt on the Peace River

Shark teeth are found by digging in the banks and bed of the Peace River. While many people simply go to one of the many public boat launches on the river and dig along the shore to find fossils, as you might imagine, due to the ease of access of these areas, the ability of finding ones that haven’t already been discovered is relatively low. Kayaks and canoes give you a stark advantage in this arena. You are able to paddle to less populated areas, which will increase your likelihood of finding shark teeth in areas that haven’t already been dug up. Simply pick out a part of the Peace River that you want to paddle, and head up or down stream

Where to Begin to Dig for Shark Teeth on the Peace River

The fossils are primarily buried in the gravel and pebbles in the peace river. During times of high water, sand from the banks gets washed into the river, covering up and further burying the fossils hidden below. Having to dig through this sand, especially in the water, is extremely difficult as the hole you dig collects more sand with each shovel you take. You should therefore look for areas where you see gravel, pebbles, and shells exposed already. The more the better. Stop and dig in these areas. The deeper you go, the larger the potential for the fossils you’ll find.

How to Sift for Fossils on the Peace River

Once you start Digging for fossils it will become really clear that you will need a way to sift out the sand and search through the gravel. There are a number of different techniques to help you do this. Almost all of them involve shoveling the sand and gravel into a strainer of sorts and straining out the sand. Strainer baskets, mesh bags, and straining devices made of wood and mesh wire are all effective at doing this. Some of the local businesses, campgrounds and canoe outfitters sell and rent straining shovels, which are an all in one solution to the shoveling and then straining activity.

Canoe or Kayak

Whether you take a canoe or kayak to search for fossils and shark’s teeth in the Peace River is a matter of preference. The are two main considerations when it comes to this decision. First, you need to realize there is a lot of getting in and out of your canoe or kayak. You will find good areas to dig, only to realize they aren’t as good as you thought. The up an down nature of fossil hunting has caused some to conclude that canoes are more efficient for the task due to the ease of getting into and out of a canoe. This is debateable however with the advent of the sit-on-top kayak which is also very easy to get into and out of.

The second consideration is the amount of gear you may want to take with you in your canoe or kayak. You’ll bring shovels, strainers, and buckets, among other things. Again, the canoe would seem to hold more of this type of gear than a kayak. However, this too is still a matter of personal preference.

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