The beautiful beaches of Martha’s Vineyard are almost like one big scavenger hunt. There are so many wonders to find rolling in the beach break, or mixed in with multicolored pebbles: a rainbow of cloudy beach glass ground soft by the crashing waves, intricately patterned shells that look as if they were painted by Mother Nature’s brush, and of course, shark teeth.
For Enzo Eddy, an 8-year-old from Brooklyn who is a part-time Island resident, his scavenger hunt on Lucy Vincent Beach ended with quite a bit of excitement, after he found a fossilized shark tooth peeking out from underneath the sand.
With erosion being such a major problem on the Vineyard, particularly for the crumbling clay cliffs up-Island, it is important to note that all these activities can be fun and successful without having to disturb the ancient cliffside.
“We often wait until after it’s really windy or wavy, because we expect the cliffs may have eroded a little more,” Elena Azzoni, Enzo’s mom, said. “We always make sure not to disturb the cliffs or any of the dunes, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that you don’t actually have to dig for shark teeth — you can just find them on the surface of the sand.”
According to Azzoni, shark teeth tend to sit on the top of the sand because they are so light, and can be easily moved by the waves. “You really don’t need to go and mess with the cliffs at all, you just kind of walk by and look for little pieces of something sharp that don’t quite look like rocks sticking up out of the sand,” Azzoni said.
The family asked various friends who are also avid shark teeth scavengers, and none of them could identify the species of shark that shed the tooth, Azzoni said.
She wondered if The Times could identify the species, so we sent a picture to shark expert Greg Skomal, who said he believes the tooth to be a fossil, although he could not identify the species of shark. He said he would ask around to some of his paleontologist friends and see if they can provide any assistance, but offered no answers by presstime.
Enzo said he has been looking for shark teeth with his family for about three years, his mother for seven years, and his father for 15 years.
“My dad has been here living on the Island for like so long, so he has been going for a really long time,” Enzo said.
Sometimes, Enzo said, he goes shark tooth hunting with his mom, sometimes with his dad, and sometimes as a whole family, along with their dog, Max.
Although Enzo said he has never found a tooth of this size, he did find what he believed to be a great white shark tooth, indicated by the razor-sharp barbs that surrounded the edge of the tooth.
“It was maybe three-quarters of the size of this tooth, and it had little tiny teeth like little blades on the sides; that’s why I thought it was a great white,” Enzo said.
The moment that Enzo found the fossilized tooth was, according to him, filled with joy and excitement. “We were all going along the beach looking through the sand, and we just saw this pointy thing that didn’t look like a rock. So we brushed it off and were just so surprised,” Enzo said.
Based on the size and shape, Enzo said he thinks the fossilized tooth might be from a mako shark, but he’s not quite sure.
Enzo said he really likes to read about sharks and learn about them in school, but not as much as his friend, Logan, whose passion for sharks is unparalleled. “He loves sharks so much it seems like he wants a shark for every birthday,” Enzo said.
Although Enzo said finding shark teeth on the beach isn’t entirely unheard-of, he knows of plenty of folks that have never found a single tooth. “I showed the tooth to someone on the beach, and they were so impressed and said they had never found one before,” he said.
Enzo said his greatest enjoyment with searching for shark teeth is being able to spend time with his family on the beach, along with keeping the shark teeth as mementos of his time spent scouring the beach.
“I’m planning to maybe give the tooth to my kids when I am older and tell them to keep passing it on,” Enzo said. “You can also make shark teeth into cool necklaces and bracelets.”