Hilton Head Shark Teeth Identification
Hilton Head isn’t known for shells, but for years shark teeth have been picked up by locals and tourists alike. (Us included.) We have found hundreds of teeth on the beach right in front of Captains Walk! Look for them during low tide, but you can also occasionally find them up in the dry sand closer to the dunes. This is because the beaches are replenished regularly by pumping sand from offshore during the fall and winter months. After the replenishment in 2016, we found as many as 60 in one day!
Sharks don’t have to die to lose teeth. Sharks drop teeth as a normal part of their daily life.
Most shark teeth found on Hilton Head are actually fossils, and most are less than 3/4″ long. We usually look for black pointy or triangular shapes among the shells. Not all black objects are teeth, so you can tell the real deal by performing a few simple tests. Shark teeth will be sharp, usually shiny, and if you squeeze them between your fingers you won’t be able to easily break them. (If you have crazy finger strength like us though, you may accidentally break a few real ones. We don’t want to talk about it.) You will occasionally find non-fossilized or only partially fossilized teeth, in which case they will range from white to brown moving toward black.
After you collect your shiny new (old) teeth, you might want to identify the animal that lost them. We’ve compiled some incredible references from reputable sources based on our own collection of teeth that we’ve found on the island. There may be more species out there we don’t have listed, so if you find any while staying at Captain’s Walk that we haven’t found here, please help us by sending us a message with a picture of your tooth for reference!
The samples below are the most common types of shark’s teeth we have found on Hilton Head. Sand Tiger Shark teeth are the easiest to find because of their size and distinctive shape. Great White teeth are the most difficult to obtain, and we have never found any large ones. After you study the reference photos below look at the picture
Sand Tiger Shark Teeth – Sand Tiger Shark
Tiger Shark Teeth – Tiger Shark
Hammerhead Shark Teeth – Hammerhead Shark
Bull Shark Teeth – Bull Shark
Lemon Shark Teeth – Lemon Shark
Great White Shark Teeth – Great White Shark
Here are some of the best samples of teeth we have found in front of our Captain’s Walk unit. Now that you have seen the pictures above, see how many you can name in the photo: