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Found 5 results

  1. After a two month Covid lockdown hiatus, I finally managed to hit the river again yesterday. Loaded up the truck and headed out to Gardner. I wanted to spend some more quality time at the same spot where I found a ground sloth phalanx on a previous trip - I was hoping to find more of that sloth. This spot is a little further away than my usual Gardner spots, so it sees less pressure and I suspected some megs might be hiding there because I kept finding broken frags and lots of other shark species. A couple of notes - 1) The long dirt road leading to the boat ramp has been resurfaced by the county. It's a much more pleasant ride and a lot less bumpy now. As recently as my last trip in March, that road was pretty darn rough and you would vibrate your vehicle to death if you drove over 5 or 10mph. The county laid down some new gravel and re-graded it. It's much better now and won't tear up your suspension. 2) When we arrived yesterday morning, the USGS Zolfo gauge said the height was 4 feet and the flow was 52cfs. That gauge is also a pretty good indicator for what to expect at Gardner. It was very low. The lowest I have personally seen it there. Long stretches were too shallow to paddle, so be prepared to do a lot of walking and pulling the kayak/canoe behind you. Also, the low flow rate was making the water very soupy and cloudy. Visibility was poor, even in the shallow spots. It wasn't a full-blown algae bloom yet, but getting there. When the gauge height starts getting below 4.25, then it's almost too low to hunt. Personally, my sweet spot is between 4.5 and 5.0. If you are going to hunt Gardner, keep the gauge in mind and adjust your hunting accordingly. Diving or snorkeling in that soup would have been unproductive. So, after some paddling and a lot of walking, we (my wife and I), arrived at the hunting spot. I spent about 5 hours there and probably turned over about 75-100 sifters worth of gravel. Some other hunters had already hit the spot, because I saw shovel marks and spoil piles. That explains why I wasn't finding as much as I had hoped. Even being more remote and seeing less pressure, this spot still gets hunted. I really need to invest in a motor to get back and forth to the really distant places. I found a nice handful of smaller teeth, a nice large thresher with good color, and one decent megalodon. My first meg since 2018. I was pretty happy about that, since I seemed to be cursed lately with megs. I couldn't buy a meg to save my life over the last two seasons. I found a few half-megs, but this was my first intact decent one in quite a while. It has a little bit of root damage, but is 95% complete and about 2 inches. Not spectacular, but it broke the snide. We only saw one small gator and one turtle. Lots of birds were everywhere and there were a lot of butterflies fluttering around the wildflowers - a lot of yellow wildflowers (coreopsis), so that was pretty to see along the banks. We also saw a great blue heron catch and swallow a small snake. That was pretty neat to see. My wife is still downloading the photos, so I will post those later. My back still hurts, but we had a great time and enjoyed getting out. Surprisingly, for a friday on a holiday weekend, the ramp and river were pretty quiet. We only saw a small handful of other people the entire day. I suspect this weekend will be busier. PS - a couple of hours after we left, a storm hit the Peace basin and the river jumped a foot.
  2. Local Florida fossil-hunters are familiar with this chunky matrix rock. It is commonly called "Gardner Matrix" or "Micro-Matrix". The material in this post was recovered from an exposure close to the boat ramp at the Gardner locality on the Peace River. (Bone Valley formation, Hawthorn group, Hardee county, Miocene). With most of us locked down due to the pandemic, I have plenty of time to sort through this loosely-consolidated and fossiliferous matrix. It's like fossil-hunting from your back porch. On my last few trips to Gardner, I loaded down my kayak with chunks of this matrix. On one trip, the nose of the kayak was dipping into the water and I was almost too overloaded to paddle back. LOL. This matrix represents an ancient Miocene sea floor. It is made up of tiny pebbles, shells, shell fragments, sand, bone bits (usually cetacean), and shark teeth. Most of the fossils have nice coloration with blue tones being common. I have gotten lucky and found a 2-inch megalodon in this same material, but that is quite rare and has only happened twice to me (one time the tooth was poorly preserved and crumbled apart on me). There are generally two types of this matrix. One is very friable and breaks apart easily with just a light tap of the hammer. You can even crumble it with your hands. The other type is harder and more solid with a orange-tan, iron-rich cementing mechanism going on. This latter type benefits from being wetted with a garden hose while breaking it apart. You can sift this material through a 1/4" and then 1/8" mesh screen to get the little stuff from it. Detail-oriented (and patient) folks can further sift it through a window screen to get the TINY fossils out. Personally, I don't have that level of patience and tiny tiny tiny micro-fossils are not really my thing. So, I sort it through a 1/4" screen and then discard the remnants into the garden. This material is phosphate-rich, so it's good for your plants. I busted up a chunk yesterday and took some photos. This particular chunk had a bunch of tiny shark teeth embedded in it. You can see one of the teeth poking out of the surface. This particular chunk was not very generous. It gave up about a dozen small teeth and a medium-sized chunk of bone or tusk - the latter of which I still need to snap a photo of, but I don't think it's identifiable. I know some of this matrix material has been sold or traded around this forum over the years, so I am curious if anyone else has been searching through it lately to satisfy their fossil-hunting urges during quarantine/lockdown. Miocene sea floor. You can see the chunk of bone hidden inside this piece. Nice little tooth with blue coloration peeking out of this chunk. A little careful work and he's free. Lots of little teeth in this chunk, but no big ones yet.... I'll break up some more material today and update this thread with my finds. Wish me luck! I want that meg!
  3. Gardner, Peace River - Slow and Low

    We paddled past Charlie Creek today. I took a long slow look at it as I paddled by going upstream and then when I floated slowly by on the way downstream. It looked very low. In fact, all of the Peace near Gardner is very very low right now. I was wading through knee deep water and pulling the kayak behind me more than I paddled. We (my wife and I) did a lot of digging and sifting. I also did a lot of slow systematic scanning of the river bottom (using nice 12-noon overhead sun to light up the shallow water). I found a lot of chunkasaurus, broken bits of mammoth teeth, ivory shards, dugong ribs, turtle scutes, and assorted small shark teeth. Found a modern vertebra, and a bunch of small oddballs that are drying out. Also brought home some more micro-matrix material to sift through later. Grabbed a couple of big cool-looking limestone rocks for the garden. We spent almost 7 hours on the river today and didn't find a single meg or highlight find. Beautiful weather and a nice paddle though. Lots of catfish everywhere. Small ones and big ones. Bring a rod and catch your dinner while you fossil-hunt. Saw zero gators today. I guess they don't like shallow moving water, so they must be congregating in the deeper stretches elsewhere. I will emphasize - the water level is very low. In some places it is only inches deep. For long stretches, I had to pull the kayak behind me and walk the river. An outboard motor would have problems unless it was mounted on one of those long booms designed for shallow water. We did see an airboat, which was nice enough to throttle down as it passed us. We also saw a group of canoeists and kayakers who had paddled down from Zolfo Springs. They said the entire stretch from Zolfo to Gardner was "almost too low" - so I am assuming they did a fair bit of portaging. The USGS Zolfo gauge read 4.49 this morning and the discharge flow was 99 - slow and low. Will post more photos later. I am dead tired, but it's a good tired. The photo below is just upstream of the ramp and not far from the mouth of Charlie Creek.
  4. Gardner/Peace River Clean-up?

    This is going out on a tangent but...Gardner is such a dump! It really ticks me off. I've been thinking about trying to round some people up for a general clean-up of a stretch of the Peace. Judging by quite a few of the people I've seen there, I wonder if it would be worth it. I know that it would , but I also know that Gardner would be back to normal the following week. Frustrating. If anyone else feels the same way and would like to try and start planning this...please let me know. I just realized that this should be a separate thread. Note to self... So...This started on a separate post and thread. I know that most, if not all of us, pick up trash and haul it back to our entry point at the end of the day. I also know that we all probably see more stuff that for one reason or another is inconvenient for us to pick up at the time. Well, what if that was all that we did for one day? What if we gathered in force and sent a crew by kayak/canoe down to Brownville Park from Gardner? Or another crew from Zolfo Springs down to Gardner...or (the worst), Brownville Park to SR70 ramp? That's a lot of people. Realistically, it would need to be split up into separate days unless we had sponsor help. I already feel like I'm in over my head. I know that it would take an entire platoon and an entire day to clean up the Gardner ramp area. It certainly seems like it would anyway. So, it's out there. I'm serious about doing this one way or another. But we all know that it's going to take more than just individuals picking up as they go. Clearly, a lot of people aren't pulling their weight. And a lot more just don't care. My name is Mike. We can use this thread to start getting together and take it from there.
  5. I never knew that Florida had such a plethora of fossil hunting opportunities. I have visited Venice Beach twice and found fossil shark teeth, fossil plant (most likely Crinoidea) impressions in rock, and fossil shells. I have wanted to visit the Peace River formation for a while now, and I know that there are other spots in Florida that seem to hold some promise. So I'm curious, since I'm basically just starting out hunting for fossils myself rather than buying them, as to what some people who also fossil hunt in Florida have found, and where you found it?
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