Finding a shark tooth at the beach can be a highlight of your day (or even your vacation). But, what should you do with your fossil when you get home? Here are seven ideas for what to do with shark teeth you find on Charleston’s beaches.
If you take a walk on one of Charleston’s beaches early in the morning at low tide, there is a good chance that you will find a shark tooth. If you take your time and know where to look (the “trash line” where shells pile up as the tide recedes is usually a good spot), you just might find a free souvenir that you can take home.
But, unless you get really lucky, your shark tooth (or shark teeth) probably won’t be more than an inch long. So, what can you do to display your find—and to make sure you don’t lose it?
Many people simply end up putting their shark teeth on a shelf or in a jar. While there is certainly nothing wrong with this approach, there is so much more you can do. If you take the time to create a display or a piece of jewelry—and perhaps learn a bit more about your shark tooth (or shark teeth) as well—you’ll have a constant reminder of your day at the beach and longer-lasting appreciation of your find.
7 Ideas for What to Do with Shark Teeth from Charleston’s Beaches
So, let’s say you find some shark teeth on one of Charleston’s beaches. What can you do with them? Here are seven ideas you can use:
1. Display Them in a Shadow Box or Sandbox
Rather than simply putting your shark teeth in a jar or on a shelf, a great way to display shark teeth is with a shadow box. If you’re still on vacation, you can order one online and it will probably be on your doorstep when you get home.
When you get your shadowbox, spend some time organizing and reorganizing your shark teeth until you find a layout you like. If you have shells or other finds from the beach, you can add these to your display as well. Then, when you’re happy with the way your shadow box looks, use a small dab of hot glue on the back of each tooth to hold it in place.
Another idea is to create a sandbox. If you can find a slightly deep shadowbox or frame, you can fill it up with sand and then display your shark teeth on top. Since the sand will start to shift downward if you hang your sandbox on the wall, this works best as a display for your shelves or coffee table.
2. Make a Shark Tooth Necklace
Another idea is to make a shark tooth necklace. This is easier than it sounds, and you can find plenty of tutorials online. Basically, creating a shark tooth necklace involves getting some thin wire and wrapping it tightly around the top of your shark tooth (or the root of the tooth) and then finishing it off with a loop that you can string onto the necklace-making material of your choosing.
According to legend, wearing a shark tooth necklace can offer both protection and good luck. Shark tooth necklaces have also been historically viewed as symbolic of strength.
If you want to, you can also add beads, shells, or just about anything else to your shark tooth necklace. If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, you can look for inspiration online. The main thing is just to make sure that your shark tooth is held firmly in place by the wire. Beyond that, you can make your shark tooth necklace as simple or ornate as you want it to be.
3. Make Shark Tooth Earrings
If you were lucky enough to find two shark teeth that are similar in size and shape, you can also make shark tooth earrings. There are a variety of ways to go about this as well, but one of the simpler ways is to wrap wire around the root of the tooth like you would to make a necklace. Then, buy simple earwires (French or Shepard hooks) or hoops online or at a craft store. You can also glue shark teeth to plain posts or studs.
4. Give Them Away
If you enjoyed finding your shark teeth more than you enjoy keeping them, then you might consider giving them away. Shark teeth are cool, and young kids in particular will be very excited to receive them. You could also make a necklace or earrings to give as a gift for the holidays or someone’s birthday. Not only can giving your shark teeth as a gift be personally satisfying, but it can also give you the bug to go back to the beach and look for more.
5. Trade Them In at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston
If you are a Charleston resident or you are still in Charleston on vacation, another option is to let your kids trade in your shark teeth at the aquarium. The South Carolina Aquarium has a Trading Post on the second floor where kids can trade in shark teeth and other finds. Kids can either trade for something else right away or save up points to get something bigger during another visit. The Trading Post has large shark teeth and several other types of beach fossils, as well as vials of sand from beaches around the world and a variety of other options.
6. Start a Collection
If you prefer to keep your shark teeth, then why not start a collection? There are places to find shark teeth all around Charleston—from the main beaches to Charleston’s uninhabited sea islands and even some of the area’s inland waterways. You can also find shark teeth at various other beaches along the U.S. east coast and around the world.
The more shark teeth you find, the more interesting you may find them. You can collect teeth from dozens of extinct species of sharks, all of which have their own unique characteristics. You can also find shark teeth at different stages of fossilization. The oldest shark teeth found in the Charleston area have been under the water for millions of years—and this can be a wild fact to sink when you’re holding one in your hand.
7. Learn More About Your Shark Teeth
Finally, no matter what you do with your shark teeth, it can be fascinating to learn more about them. With a little bit of research, you can learn about the species your teeth are from, and you can learn all about the species’ history and how your shark teeth ended up on Charleston’s beaches. A great resource is A Beachcomber’s Guide to Fossils. This book provides detailed information about the shark teeth and other fossils you can find in the Charleston area, and some of the book’s authors are Charleston locals who have spent decades exploring the local shores.
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