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Hi all, I finally made the trek to Matoaka Beach, a fossil collecting site along the Calvert Cliffs on the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The beach is accessible to the public for $5 per person per day. Once we arrived, we reported to the front office where the property owner and his adorable newborn daughter were happy to collect our fee and give us access to the beach along with advice on how to best hunt the grounds. He advised us to head North (left of the entrance), which was what I had also read online. Apparently, the farther North you head, the better the fossils tend to be. So my dad and I made our way down the stairs to the foot of the cliffs, and began searching. The beach is very wide, so it's difficult to decide where to walk. I was finding fragments of Chesapectan shells left and right, but nothing quite worth keeping. But then, after maybe 5 minutes of hunting, I looked down at my feet and saw a large, complete, Ecphora staring back at me. I could hardly believe it. At a site where invertebrates dominate the matrix, a nice Ecphora is just about equivalent to finding a Megalodon tooth. And yes, I am aware that Meg teeth can be and have been found at this site before, but the find that I was after that day was certainly Ecphora. It was a gorgeous specimen, much larger and more complete than any other I'd found before. And there it was, just laying out in the open, a couple hundred yards from the entrance. I excitedly showed my dad the find, and promptly continued hunting, although I knew there was likely no beating what I had just found at the very beginning of the day. As I walked farther North, I marveled at the cliffs, which were absolutely chalk full of invertebrate fossils. It was incredible, and unlike anything I'd ever seen before. I kept finding crushed shells and small pieces of fossilized coral, but nothing spectacular. That is, until I stumbled upon the section of the beach where many huge chunks of the cliffs had fallen. I decided to look for large shells sticking out of the cliff falls, and very quickly discovered the best method for finding fossils at Matoaka. Immediately, I began finding giant Chesapectan every couple of inches in the cliff falls. After unearthing about a dozen, I decided to head North again to see if I could find another similar section. I walked at least a mile farther and found next to nothing, so I turned around and headed back towards the digging site. When I arrived, I saw that my dad has discovered the falls and was digging through them just as I had been. We both set down our gear and decided to spend the rest of our day there carefully excavating shells from the matrix. This was certainly different than the fossil hunting I've done in the past. It felt more like the traditional "dig site" hunting that most people think of when they think of a paleontologist or archaeologist. It was really cool. At one point, I saw a familiar spiral structure just poking out of one of the falls, and quickly recognized it as a small Ecphora. I plopped myself down on the ground next to it and spent the next 20 or so minutes cautiously excavating it. I foolishly forgot to bring a digging kit, so I resourcefully used broken fragments of sturdy shells around me to dig out the specimen. Although I chipped off a few pieces of it, I managed to extract it from the matrix mostly intact. With that, we headed back towards the entrance. We decided to sift for a bit to try for some shark teeth, and eventually I found one and my dad found three. Matoaka is unrivaled for invertebrate fossils along the Cliffs, but it's definitely not a top spot for teeth. Overall, I was incredibly pleased with my first trip to Matoaka Beach. From the friendly owners to the beautiful scenery and wildlife and the fantastic fossil finds, Matoaka Beach is a must for any fossil hunter in the DMV area. We ended up finding a ton of Chesapectan, ranging from "itty bitty" nearly the size of my hand, some stunning Ecphora, fossilized coral and barnacles, some Turritella, and a few shark teeth as well. I already can't wait to go back to Matoaka. Thanks for reading my report. Hoppe Hunting!
anthracite31 posted a topic in Fossil Hunting TripsIf your also into photography, Matoaka Beach Cabins have some great opportunities to photograph birds of prey. One of their campsites is situated right at the cliff and the birds were flying all over! A long lense will help for better shots, but there is subject matter all around. Eagles, ospreys, hawks, vultures, and gulls. We had a great time!
Our final day saw us leaving Greenville at 5am on the way back north to Calvert Cliffs. Matoaka Beach Cabins to be exact. A breezy but beautiful day! Very little in the way of teeth and my daughter found all of them. One of them she darn near dove for. The photos will explain why.