If you’ve got your heart set on finding your own piece of the biggest shark ever to have lived, you might be thinking about heading to the beach to search.
Suppose you want to find a potentially valuable megalodon tooth and would prefer not just to be wandering the beach aimlessly.
In that case, we’ll take you through everything you need to know to have a better-than-average chance.
Once you’ve decided on your search location, we’ll consider how to find megalodon shark teeth with the best search methods and even the best time to go tooth hunting.
So, stop dreaming about giant shark tooth fossils. Get out the sunscreen, and get ready to head off for some beach fossil hunting.
How To Find Megalodon Teeth on the Beach
The megalodon (Otodus megalodon) is the largest shark species ever to have lived.
Over 3.6 million years ago, they became extinct, and the only record of these enormous apex predators is their fossilized teeth.
The teeth are well-known for their large triangular size, attractive coloring, and sharp serrated edges on the best-preserved specimens.
Large megalodon teeth are highly prized amongst collectors, and the best quality and largest teeth can fetch many thousands of dollars.
How to find megalodon shark teeth is a combination of judgment, experience, and luck.
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The teeth have been found on every continent on earth except Antarctica, so there’s always a chance you could stumble across one.
But to up the odds, let’s try and work out the best ways to find megalodon teeth on the beach.
Location, Location, Location
Before we consider how to look for megalodon teeth, we need to consider where to look.
Megalodon teeth are discovered occasionally in unexpected places. For example, in 2022, a six-year-old boy found a 10cm (4 in) tooth on Bawdsey beach in the east of the UK.
Not only isn’t this beach well-known for megalodon teeth, but the young boy’s luck really was in as it was his first ever fossil hunting trip!
While you might get lucky at your nearest beach, if you’re set on finding a megalodon tooth specifically, try to head to one of our best beaches that are well-known for the giant shark’s remains.
In the United States, this basically means the beaches on the southeastern Atlantic coast that are famed for megalodon teeth.
Once you’ve decided on your general area, seek some up-to-date, local advice.
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Nothing in the tooth-hunting game beats experience, so if you see a local who looks like they’re hunting for shark teeth, ask them for tips on where to search.
You can also check local news websites, fossil society pages, or ask at a local beach souvenir shop if they have any tips.
The right part of the beach to search can change with the season, so just because a particular spot was rich in teeth last year doesn’t mean it will be now.
Getting the most recent information about the beach you’re visiting can make all the difference, especially if your time is limited.
The Best Times to Search
Once you’ve decided which beach you’re going to search, consider the best time for finding shark teeth.
If you have the opportunity, head to the beach after a storm as soon as it’s safe.
Storms and rough seas expose previously buried layers underwater, which can deliver new and potentially larger megalodon teeth onto the beach.
In addition, the authorities periodically top up some beaches with sedimentary sand they’ve dredged from nearby channels to keep them clear for shipping.
This can be a fantastic opportunity for finding new teeth, so if you can find out the schedule, you could be ahead of the game when fresh, unsearched, fossil-rich sand is pumped onto the beach.
If you can’t visit when either of these two circumstances has occurred, you can still time your visit to improve your chances.
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For example, visiting a popular location early in the morning means you will be the first to see what the night has delivered.
It’s also better to search in the winter when the beaches are quieter, rather than in summer when they’re likely to be super busy.
If all else fails, make sure you check the tide tables for your beach.
When you’re first visiting a beach, it’s often a good idea to visit at low tide. This way, you have the most expansive possible area of exposed beach to search.
With experience, you may find that you want to be able to check the high tide line specifically to see what large items have been deposited. In that case, you may want to time your trip for just an hour after the tide has turned so you can search while the water is receding.
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Luckily for us, we’re searching for megalodon teeth, which are potentially the most enormous shark teeth around.
All the same, with the most common baby megalodon teeth measuring about 2.54 cm (1 in), you will need to tune your eyes in for what to look for.
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Look for triangular shapes mixed in with a jumble of irregular broken shells or rounder pebbles.
Remember too that often megalodon teeth found on the beach damage from tumbling around in the ocean. So, don’t discount angular shapes that aren’t perfect triangles.
Try to be aware of the predominant color for shark teeth fossils in your area, so you’re searching for the right shade.
The most common color for shark teeth in many areas is black, which often contrasts nicely with its surroundings.
Different Search Methods for Finding Shark Teeth at the Beach
There are a few different methods that you can use to search for fossilized shark teeth at the beach.
How well they work can depend on the specific location and conditions, so you might need to try them all to evaluate which one works best for where you are.
Search the Strandlines
The strandline is the area above the waterline, so it’s the part that’s (mostly) dry!
If you’ve taken our advice to visit at low tide or when the tide is going out, you’ll see open lines of different ocean debris left on the beach.
Simply put, as the tide has come in and then headed out again, the waves have sorted their cargo for you leaving bands of similar-sized pieces.
Look for the layers with plenty of pieces of larger broken shells or rocks and walk slowly along, scanning carefully for anything strikingly contrasting in color or shape from its surroundings.
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Depending on the local environment, the largest pieces and the bigger megalodon shark teeth wash ashore and leave at the high tide line.
Often the bigger particles get carried all the way in by the crashing waves as the tide comes in, but when it turns, they’re the first to get stuck.
Paddle the Shoreline
While searching in the strandlines can work really well, if you’ve arrived late at a popular beach, they can already have been picked clean.
Similarly, if you’re on the beach when the tide is coming in, the best opportunity can be to search the waterline itself and see what fresh supplies the waves are delivering.
You’ll need some boots or be ready to wet your feet. At the very least, wearing beach shoes is an excellent idea to protect your feet from getting cut.
Walk along the waterline where the waves are breaking and get ready to grab anything that looks interesting.
Shovels and Sifting Screens
If you’re searching at the waterline, you can take it to the next level by using a shovel or a scoop, like a kitchen strainer, to grab a load of sand and shells and then sift through it to search for smaller megalodon teeth.
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In Venice Beach, Florida, you can rent or buy the famous “Venice Snow Shovel” locally, and these can be pretty effective for quickly scooping up a bunch of sand to sift through without bending down.
At top-rated locations for finding shark teeth, you’ll probably see keen hunters using a floating sifting screen to make their search as productive as possible.
A mesh is fixed in a square frame, and pool noodles or similar are used to keep it afloat.
All you need to do is keep scooping up sand and pour it through the floating sifting screen to see what you can find.
It’s generally true that the biggest megalodon teeth fossils at the beach are usually found offshore.
However, wading in shallow waters and using a floating sifting screen can improve your chances without resorting to scuba diving in deeper waters. Make sure you also take a bucket along to keep your discoveries safe.
You can also dig down into the sand on the strandlines to try to find a previously deposited band of shell.
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Often, you only need to dig down a foot or so, and you’ll come across thick deposits left years ago. Sorting through these with a spade and sieve can be very productive.
Other Interesting Areas
Big fossilized megalodon teeth don’t always make it up the beach to get picked up during a gentle stroll.
There’s always a chance to find shark teeth, particularly larger ones, lodged in areas where there are large rocks or other big objects.
Take a walk along sea defenses, or if possible, wade around piers or anywhere else where something getting brought in by the tide can get snagged.
Remember that the prehistoric shark teeth on some beaches don’t come from the sea itself.
For example, at the Calvert Cliffs State Park in Maryland, many megalodon fossils come from the cliffs themselves.
So, on this beach, you may want to spend at least some of your time carefully looking to see what has been released by recent cliff collapses.
How Common Is It To Find Megalodon Teeth?
Finding megalodon teeth is, as we’ve shown, a combination of planning, skill, and definitely luck.
While there are places where you’re more likely to find a megalodon tooth, you may discover teeth from other prehistoric sharks more frequently than those from the giant.
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However, thanks to megalodon sharks long lives, relatively widespread population, and knack for frequently losing teeth (each shark could get through up to 40,000 teeth in their lifetime), finding a record of this enormous predator is more common than you may think.
Best Places To Find Megalodon Shark Teeth
The best beaches to find megalodon teeth are those that have nearby rivers that have cut through known fossil beds before arriving at the ocean.
Other excellent beaches to find shark teeth have cliffs or offshore formations containing fossilized shark teeth.
On these beaches, you want to look for areas with higher tides and stronger tides, as these are more likely to bring you a bigger megalodon shark tooth.
You can take a look at our guide for the best place to find megalodon teeth for a full rundown.
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However, check out these locations for a quick look at where to find megalodon teeth at the beach.
Venice Beach, Florida
The Venice Beach area is often called the shark tooth capital of the world and with good reason.
There are great opportunities to find megalodon teeth here, and the experts recommend that you look at:
- Brohard Park and the adjacent Venice Fishing Pier
- The area south of the Venice Jetty, including Casey Key and Manasota Key
- Caspersen Beach, particularly the rocky areas
Mickler’s Landing at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
While Venice Beach, Florida, may be the self-proclaimed “shark tooth capital,” Mickler’s Landing can more than hold its own for finding shark teeth.
It’s often a much quieter destination, so you may have a better opportunity for hunting without other collectors grabbing the megalodon tooth you deserve.
Calvert Cliffs State Park, Maryland
Explore the beach here at low tide after a storm, and there’s a great chance to find megalodon teeth fossils.
Be sure to stick to public areas and never dig into the cliff, as it can easily collapse.
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Offshore fossil ledges are filled with megalodon teeth, and while finding shark teeth may be more common for scuba divers on a dive boat, they frequently appear on the beach.
Hopefully, we’ve shown you how to find megalodon shark teeth, and you’re ready to have a go for yourself.
Searching for shark teeth on the beach can be an excellent way to spend a day.
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Even if you don’t find a giant megalodon shark tooth on your first attempt, you’re almost guaranteed to find some other unique natural history souvenir, including perhaps a smaller shark tooth or other fossils.
Stick at it, and with perseverance and some luck, you’ll soon have your very own big tooth megalodon relic.
British-born Dan has been a scuba instructor and guide in Egypt's Red Sea since 2010.
Dan loves inspiring safe, fun, and environmentally responsible diving and particularly enjoys the opportunity to dive with sharks or investigate local shipwrecks.
When not spending time underwater, Dan can usually be found biking and hiking in Sharm's desert surroundings.