Last week while we were in Florida, my Aunt and Uncle took us fossil hunting in the Peace River. There is so much more to Florida than Disney World yall, and we got an insider experience. Who knew there were dinosaur fossils in Florida? Fossil hunting was something I had never done and I figured most people wouldn’t be familiar with it, or even know that you could find dinosaur bones in South Florida, so I put together a little how-to from my perspective of our day.
Step One- Get your gear. We took a kayak that my uncle rigged a trolling motor to (don’t forget we are in the South, and it ain’t a full day if something hasn’t been rigged). We also took along screens, shovels, fried chicken, and one curious little boy.
Next-Check the water. Stay extremely shallow and constantly be checking your surroundings because you aren’t from gator country and are paranoid that you will be eaten by an alligator. Periodically continue checking for gators even though your Aunt and husband have told you thirty times that you won’t be eaten by one. Watch as your fearless son has the time of his life on the beach.
Hop in the kayak and head up river, escorted by the most handsome guide you’ve ever seen. Stop at sandbars, and dig up rocky dirt and sift it looking for fossils. When you’re unsuccessful for quite a while, eat the fried chicken and biscuits while handsome paddler takes you farther up river to look for a better spot. Relax, and mentally take a thousand pictures of the beautiful scenery because you are afraid to get your camera wet. (Most of this river has never been touched by humans and is as about as beautiful as it can get).
Next, look up at the sky and pay attention if you see looming dark clouds (You’re future self would have been grateful had you not gotten stuck in torrential down pour, but you do end up having fun kayaking through the rain and hiding in the car eating cookies).
Now that you know it is very possible, you start really trying. It sounds simple- feel for rocks, dig where rocks are, sift the sand out, and then go through the rocks. If you’re lucky like me, you won’t have to look too hard because you’ll prick yourself on the shark teeth, but a lot of times it’s tricky finding or recognizing the smaller fossils! Swim and play for a little when your son gets tired of you getting excited over rocks, and then keep looking!
We had SUCH a good time going out on the river with my Aunt and Uncle. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences that I want to do every time we go visit. It was so fun hunting for fossils and riding on the kayak, and the river was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. If you ever get to go to South Florida, head to the Peace River and see what you can find! We ended up with three pieces of Dugong rib bones (an ancient relative of the manatee), ten various fossils (a.k.a. we weren’t really sure what they were), nine fossilized shark teeth, and one fossilized piece of coral. Not bad for newbies!