Claudia Waltemire’s hobby of collecting sharks’ teeth on Topsail Island proves just how many teeth there are to be found.
At the beginning of 2020, Claudia Waltemire set an ambitious goal to make her walks along Topsail Beach more interesting. The retired Hampstead math teacher decided to see if she could collect 2,020 sharks’ teeth in 2020.
Spoiler alert: She reached her goal in August and is still gathering the more of the fierce sea animal’s choppers.
“Starting January 1, I went to the beach and kept my eyes on the sand,” Waltemire says. “After each trip, I would come home and count the number of teeth, and I kept a running total on my phone. ”The teeth usually range in size from one-quarter inch to 2 inches.
“It’s a matter of looking for dark triangles as you walk,” she says, adding that low tides are the best times to gather sharks’ teeth because more of the beach is exposed. She has found the teeth scattered throughout Surf City–area beaches, but says some places are better than others. Like a true collector, the mother of two declined to reveal the best locations.
Walking alone or with friends, she combs the sand two or three times a week.
“It is something to do, another reason to go to the beach,” she says. “My friends are amazed. I show them where to go. To them, it seems so mysterious.”
Sharks’ teeth can be razor sharp and may be found on any beach, according the sharkinsider.com. They are usually buried, so a keen eye is important. Hunting for teeth is fun, like a treasure hunt. And even if you don’t find any, it’s still a great day at the beach.
Waltemire stresses that is important to search for their triangle shape. Mastodon — prehistoric fossilized teeth — give themselves away by their black color. Other teeth are usually gray.
What do you do with more than 2,000 sharks’ teeth?
Waltemire has a jewelry-making friend who made her a prized pair of earrings, but most are sitting in her home as souvenirs of her hobby.
Waltemire says that while she was visiting Florida, she noted there were guided sharks’-teeth hunting excursions for $35. That’s an idea she’s thinking of bringing to Topsail. How many teeth will she collect in 2021? We will have to wait and see.