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Hey all, I am new here and to the hobby in general so I apologize if I am not following some etiquettes that I don't know about. I just wanted to share my experience on the Withlacoochee river so that maybe someone else can learn from it. My buddy and I drove up to the Florida Georgia line to visit the Withlacoochee river and hunt for some agatized coral. I am a senior geology student and none of my fellow classmates or professors I've asked know how or where to fossil hunt for whatever reason so I am learning this all myself. Anyways, I brought a couple kayaks and we got on the river with neither of us having a clue what to look for other than what information I could find on this wonderful forum. We spent the better part of an hour loading down the kayaks with what now appears to be junk rocks and paddling upstream towards some gunshots on the north side of the bank shooting west to east that we inferred we're coming from the gun range we saw signs for. When we got close enough to hear the snap of the bullets before they hit their steel targets, I noticed that the bed of the river was full of the coral so I hopped in and started loading up with rocks despite my friend's insistence that this was not a smart place to be. We could hear the shots hitting the steel and ricocheting off into the trees, but I figured I was safe down in the river. After about 10 minutes, one of the ricochets impacted about 2 feet away from us and startled us real good. We booked it out of there and went upstream hoping to come back when the range closed. Eventually we ran out of time and had to paddle back past the range, luckily with no close calls but there was still shooting unnervingly close. While we were loading up the kayaks on the ramp under the highway, however, another bullet whizzed over our heads. This was about a mile away from the range. We drove past the range on our way back to kindly suggest they do something to fix this in the future, and we were not taken seriously. The worker even tried to tell me it was a different man on the south side of the river, yeah right. I did learn that they were closed on Mondays, so maybe I can make another trip out there to actually find some decent coral. Anyways, be safe out there everyone. I would enjoy hearing about other stories similar to this so that I may learn the easy way in the future.
Hey folks! You may have seen Cris's video of our Agatized Coral hunt recently (I was a little behind on editing!). But here is my take on it, and my finds! We don't always get to head up to GA to hunt for coral, so this was a very nice change of pace. We found some really killer pieces!
I made a decision to stay out of the Peace River until a little rain flushes out whatever is giving me a skin reaction. It's killing me since the river is as low as it gets and we wait all year for this opportunity, but it is what it is. This (Monday May 15th) is the 1st day of a 3 day coral hunt. 2 Days in the Withlacoochee in Georgia and the third day (Weds) in the Suwannee on the way home to DeLand. I put 8 hours in the river today, with decent results but mostly small "geodes". I won't know how well I've done until I get them home, clean them up and start taking slices. I did bring back one pretty monstrous head which I pulled from the blue clay so it's really nice and white. It has a couple promising voids, but until the clay is cleaned off I won't know if it's a museum piece or a boulder for the garden. Either way it was a back breaker. Back to the same spot for a little while tomorrow to see if the pocket has more to offer. I'll follow up with any updates tomorrow if they're worthwhile.
This post may hold the record for the longest setup time (unless you count the millions of years of "setup" that are the basis for most of the posts on this forum). The ultimate origin was when I first saw posts from Jim (coralhead) and John (Sacha) showing some stunningly gorgeous silicified fossil corals. This was a treasure to hunt for so unlike the black and gray shark teeth (and other fossils) I had been pulling out of the Peace River and I am always up for new experiences so I contacted the two of them through the forum. In addition to the incredibly encyclopedic knowledge brought to this forum by its members, the social aspect of being able to communicate with other members who share your interest should not be overlooked as another great benefit of TFF. After some discussions about where and how this fossilized coral was found I soon learned that Jim was organizing a trip back in August 2014 for some friends from other mineral and rock tumbling forums who were coming in from out of state to collect some coral. We arrived in southern Georgia and my wife and I were able to meet up with Jim and John in person (two of the nicest guys you're ever likely to meet--a trait that I believe is shared by the vast majority of TFF members). Jim had his hands full organizing the larger group that was coming in from various states to the north so John took us under his wing and Tammy and I were introduced to coral collecting. To call it "hunting" is a bit misleading as the bed of the Withlacoochee River is quite literally paved with chunks of fossilized coral--"shopping" would be a more apt term for what we did. The trick of course is to find some nice pieces where the calcium carbonate (aragonite) coral skeleton has been replaced over time with silicon dioxide as water has picked up this mineral from the silica rich sands and percolated through the corals to slowly transform the chalky white corals to a lustrous glassy chert. A quick strike on a corner with a rock hammer would usually open up a "window" so that we could see what the inner state of the corals looked like within their rocky (and sometimes algae covered) crusts. To say that we had a great time would be an understatement. As you can see from the photo above collected quite a bit--sometimes a bit indiscriminately as we were still novices and did not have a fine tuned eye for what would be a nice looking specimen. One of the goals was to find some pieces of coral that would (though transformed into silica-based chert over the eons) still show some signs of the original coral polyp structure. My wife has a favorite fossil coral pendant she bought in Bali several years ago and we thought it would be fun to try to find something like this ourselves. Unfortunately, our desire to aim for pieces retaining the polyp structure often led us to keep pieces that turned out to be "punky"--where the silica had not entirely replaced the calcium carbonate skeleton. These pieces (while displaying the polyps) were not glassy enough to take cutting and polishing or rock tumbling and have now become "yard rocks" in the back yard. If you missed reading about this outing, check out this post from shortly after our trip (with lots of pretty images): http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/48828-first-coral-hunt/ -Ken