Georgia Shark Tooth Hunter Talks Finding Megalodon Teeth Near Savannah

In the early morning hours of mid-July on a private dock near Midway, Georgia, diver and shark tooth hunter Bill Eberlein prepares his scuba gear for a few hours of groping along the Atlantic seabed . Above, the sky turns into a patchwork of blue skies and low, dark clouds. In the distance, a heavy gust of rain over the swamp hints at the potential for volatile weather for the day.

But that does not discourage him.

Since 2002, he has been professionally searching for megalodon shark teeth in the cuts and backwaters of the Intercoastal Waterway.

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Eberlein, who stands over six feet tall, is sturdily built and topped with an effervescent tuft of black, curly hair, chats with his business partner, the boat’s captain and his wife, Dodie Gay-Eberlein. Together, as they tidy up the interior of the ship and review the latest forecast, they go back and forth to find the best prospects for the morning hunt.

“The tide is heading down, so there’s going to be a strong current, and that could spin the teeth and everything,” Eberlein mused. “Let’s keep that in mind as we go. Clouds and sky will tell us more once we get there.

Gay-Eberlein powers his 25-foot Parker sports boat and maneuvers around marsh turns and straights that gradually give way to open water. Half an hour later, she cut the engine. The low clouds have cleared and the sky is higher and much bluer.

At one of their secret hunting spots, they drop anchor at 70ft and begin outfitting Eberlein for the first deep dive of the day. It will stay at the bottom for about an hour, resurface and then come back down for another hour.

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Preparing for the excursion is a team effort. After Eberlein puts on a full suit, he sits on the side of the boat, and Gay-Eberlein straps a weighted belt around his waist and secures a red mesh bag to his chest to collect the shark teeth.

Bill Eberlein returns with a set of megalodon teeth in his mesh bag, after plunging for an hour, 70 feet down the Inter-Coastal Waterway.

To ensure his body is further protected from the season’s rugged seabed and abundant jellyfish, they are working to put gloves on him and attach padding to his knees. He also wears a bright orange kayaking helmet fitted with a high-intensity headlamp.

Then the pair triple check the air tank, face shield and regulator to make sure they are all in place and working properly.

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With flippers on her feet, Eberlein rocks aft from the gunwale and, with a splash, fades below, following the anchor line to the seabed. Securely tethered to the boat so it won’t be swept away in the current, it will sift through its hands and knees to feel the familiar shapes and textures of fossil megalodon teeth, which are typically three to five inches in length and in these waters date back 2 to 5 million years.

Bill Eberlein dressed, preparing to put on the air tank, face mask, regulator and helmet.

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Originally from Pennsylvania, in his early twenties, Eberlein began diving wrecks in Lake Eerie. He and his companions sometimes found shards of porcelain and other bits of history. He loved it, stuck to it, and within several years earned a scuba instructor certification while studying at college and graduate school in accounting and information technology.

Fast forward to 1999, when Eberlein’s diligence paid off, earning him two master’s degrees and a job in computer science at Gulfstream Aerospace. Prepared for new adventures in the coastal waters of the Lowcountry, Eberlein soon met a colleague from Gulfstream who introduced him to shark tooth hunting.

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They spent a day on a charter boat off Hilton Head Island. Eberlein was addicted. In a few years it would be supporting itself lucratively solely from the finds of megalodons.

Some of the finds Eberlein pulled from the clay bottom below.

“It was a bit like diving into Lake Eerie,” Eberlein recalled of his first time in the waterways near Savannah. “There’s very little visibility there, and you have to rely on your hands to smell and find things. Sometimes a horseshoe crab will bump into you – this may come as a surprise. I’ve encountered sharks and rays there, which always catches your eye in the murky water.”

Although jellyfish are a frequent nuisance, sharks, crabs and stingrays are of little concern compared to the strong undercurrents sometimes created when the tides change.

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Eight years ago, Eberlein was dragged nearly six miles out to sea and needed Coast Guard rescue. In Gay-Eberlein’s mind, it’s a day marked by both terror and faith

She was home when one of their boat captains called, tearfully telling her, “I lost it, I lost it. Bill is gone. But Gay-Eberlein did not accept this as the final hunt. The couple had been married for less than a year and she was confident in his unwavering manner in difficult situations. She took action to find him.

The duo pose for a quick photo after dropping anchor in the Inter-Coastal Waterway.

“I immediately located another boat and another captain, grabbed my scuba gear and went to get it,” she recalls with a twinkle in her eye. “I knew I would find him alive because I wasn’t going to let him bail out for our first anniversary.”

When they were reunited on the coastguard boat, Eberlein was characteristically calm. He had realized something was wrong while submerged and assumed that something had happened to the captain of the boat. Without panic, off the Atlantic Ocean, he surfaced, threw a bright orange distress buoy and waited to be found.

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For Eberlein, the moments underwater in search of fossil teeth are what keep him inspired. Each is shaped and preserved in its own way – the thrill is finding that uniqueness. And for its legions of loyal collectors, many are thrilled to have something reminiscent of a time when vastly different species populated the planet.

The quest to learn more about the greatest predator that ever lived

Megalodon, whose name literally means “big tooth”, is the largest predator to ever exist, and the species has existed on a staggering time scale for human comprehension. 20 million years ago the shark began hunting the planet’s oceans, and for 13 million years it thrived until the planet cooled abruptly 2.6 million years ago. years, when the giant shark died out.

An adult megalodon can reach a height of sixty feet, slightly longer than a tractor-trailer and trailer, and weigh up to 100 tons. By comparison, the largest recorded great white shark was just under 20 feet long and weighed three and a half tons.

A mouth of a prehistoric megalodon on display at the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton, Florida.

Fossil megalodon teeth have been found around the world, but the species preferred warm waters as would have been common off the coasts of present-day Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. The tidal rivers in these places contain fine clay and silt, which have helped preserve the prehistoric teeth so prized by collectors today.

Megalodon also grew and lost them constantly – an adult would have had three rows lining both its upper and lower jaw for a full set of 276 teeth.

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The couple love that their hunting efforts often help connect people to this deep, natural, geological history. Children, in particular, resonate with the species. A father and son once browsed the booth at a trade show, and the young boy was particularly taken with a find that his father ended up buying for him.

Dodie Gay-Eberlein demonstrates with her new findings how the teeth would have been arranged in the jaws of a megalodon shark.

“I remember how special that tooth was for the kid and I said, ‘That shark tooth has been around for two million years, and that’s how long your daddy is going to love you for'” , recalls Gay-Eberlein.

“For many people, being able to hold a one-of-a-kind object that was once part of a large animal that swam here millions of years ago is beyond fascinating. The tooth has survived with its own history. , and now the collector, or father and son, is part of the pursuit of its unique history.

To learn more about what Bill and Dodie are up to, or to be part of the story yourself, check out their website and company, MegaTeeth at megateeth.com.

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