More than 20 million years ago, Southern Maryland was under water. Sharks and other ancient life filled the waters, and they left their remains behind when the waters receded. As the cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay erode, the waters wash these ancient artifacts back to shore.
Shark tooth and fossil hunting is something of a local obsession, and there’s plenty to go around. Did you know sharks lose 10 to 20,000 teeth over their lifetime? That leaves a lot of shark teeth in the cliffs and sand of the Chesapeake Bay!
Here are four places to go fossil hunting in Southern Maryland. Don’t forget your sand sifter, a bucket, your sunscreen, and your patience!
Calvert Cliffs State Park, Lusby
It’s no wonder this is one of the most popular state parks in Southern Maryland – so popular, in fact, that the park has to limit the number of visitors on busy weekends. Take the 1.8-mile walk through the woods to the beach. The cliffs rise behind you, and the Chesapeake Bay stretches out before you. Climbing the cliffs and fossil hunting below them is off limits, but you’ll find plenty space on the quarter-mile long beach to play and search for teeth and fossils.
Visitor Information: Open sunrise to sunset daily. $5 per vehicle, $10 per small bus, and $25 per large bus. Cash only.
Flag Ponds Nature Park, Lusby
Just up the road from Calvert Cliffs is the Calvert County-run Flag Ponds Nature Park. This quiet beach is a half-mile walk from the parking lot and visitors’ center. Hunt for fossils along the shoreline, and wade in the shallow water. (Look out for jellyfish at certain times of the year!) There’s also a fishing pier and hiking trails. Watch for capacity closures on holidays and weekends.
Visitor Information: Open year round, with seasonal hours. (See website for details.) $4 per vehicle for Calvert County residents, $6 for non-county residents, $2 for bikers and walkers. From November to March, the entrance fee is $3.
Purse State Park, Marbury
Little known and remote, Purse State Park in Charles County is a fossil-hunter’s paradise at low tide. You could find teeth, bones, and shell fragments. It’s about a 1-mile walk to the waterfront, and you should check the tides before you set out on your adventure. There’s little beach at high tide.
Visitor Information: Open sunrise to sunset. No fee.
Bay Front Park, Chesapeake Beach
Get a view of the cliffs and search for teeth and fossils at this public beach – also known as Brownie’s Beach — a half mile south of the town of Chesapeake Beach. There are few amenities, but plenty of sand and water for play.
Visitor Information: Open 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily. There is an admission fee from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For current pricing, visit the beach’s website.
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