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Miocene Whale Recovered From & for Display at VA State Park

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Xiphactinus

Great photos and good job on the recovery! Can't wait to see photos of the cleaned up skull.

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hokiehunter

Marco should be careful.  Recall I had someone leave a roofing nail under my tire.  I carry the local CPO and Sheriff Deputy number with me now when I go out and check my tires after hunting.  Like I said... glad to hear they are getting serious about nailing the worst offenders.  The lack of enforcement was just emboldening the really bad apples to go further and further with the antics.  I'd say it's unbelievable that someone would break open a plaster cast but then I suspect habits beyond fossil hunting need to be supported if you catch my drift.  I know the CPO busted a few folks on the community beach recently for that.  I had actually called him in on to nail some duck hunters that were hunting under motor near my house and he got the drug users as a bycatch.  :-)

 

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MarcoSr
2 hours ago, hokiehunter said:

Marco should be careful.  Recall I had someone leave a roofing nail under my tire.  I carry the local CPO and Sheriff Deputy number with me now when I go out and check my tires after hunting.  Like I said... glad to hear they are getting serious about nailing the worst offenders.  The lack of enforcement was just emboldening the really bad apples to go further and further with the antics.  I'd say it's unbelievable that someone would break open a plaster cast but then I suspect habits beyond fossil hunting need to be supported if you catch my drift.  I know the CPO busted a few folks on the community beach recently for that.  I had actually called him in on to nail some duck hunters that were hunting under motor near my house and he got the drug users as a bycatch.  :-)

 

 

I get your drift.  I used to love collecting that area.  Not any more.

 

Marco Sr.

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Boesse
On 11/28/2017 at 4:05 PM, jpc said:

Looks like two whale skulls were collected in the mid Atlantic states last week.  How cool is that? 

And a third farther south down here in Charleston!

 

That is really discouraging to hear of so much poaching, but I'm glad that tickets are being issued. In the days of smart phones, it may be worth considering recording video of the offenders for the police.

 

As a permit holder I have zero obligation to be kind to lawbreakers, and if on private land where such offenders might jeopardize my access to the locality, I will not hesitate to report such activity to the landowner. You guys did the right thing, and it's a shame that they damaged your jackets. At least the removed bones were recovered.

 

This also factors heavily into why I prefer to try to attempt excavations start to finish in one shot, or over 2-3 consecutive days, because I simply do not trust idiots and I can't be out there babysitting the fossil and playing the part of park ranger.

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MarcoSr
2 hours ago, Boesse said:

And a third farther south down here in Charleston!

 

That is really discouraging to hear of so much poaching, but I'm glad that tickets are being issued. In the days of smart phones, it may be worth considering recording video of the offenders for the police.

 

As a permit holder I have zero obligation to be kind to lawbreakers, and if on private land where such offenders might jeopardize my access to the locality, I will not hesitate to report such activity to the landowner. You guys did the right thing, and it's a shame that they damaged your jackets. At least the removed bones were recovered.

 

This also factors heavily into why I prefer to try to attempt excavations start to finish in one shot, or over 2-3 consecutive days, because I simply do not trust idiots and I can't be out there babysitting the fossil and playing the part of park ranger.

 

That is great news about the third skull! 

 

Once the unstable cliff above the specimen came down (It took around 6 months), the boys were able to excavate and jacket everything (skull, lower jaw and other associated bones) in 4 days.  They had put a temporary jacket on what little was exposed months earlier to protect it because they were unable to excavate it at that time because the cliff above it was unstable.   It took 4 days because of the specimen size and the amount of bones there.  We usually extract smaller specimens in a day or two at most.  The water levels in the area are much higher in the summer which limited when the specimen could be extracted.  We needed a boat (which Jack would provide) to get the specimen out because of where it was and the weight.  Jack can tell you that  many planned extractions were canceled because of high water, bad weather, wind etc.  While waiting to get the specimen out the boys had to rejacket the specimens twice because the jackets were broken open by the poachers.  The park rangers did the very best they could to protect everything but the specimen was located in an area of the cliffs that could only be really seen from the water.  My sons were very relieved when the skull was sitting in the park trailer.

 

Marco Sr.

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jpc
3 hours ago, Boesse said:

 

As a permit holder I have zero obligation to be kind to lawbreakers, and if on private land where such offenders might jeopardize my access to the locality, I will not hesitate to report such activity to the landowner. You guys did the right thing, and it's a shame that they damaged your jackets. At least the removed bones were recovered.

 

This also factors heavily into why I prefer to try to attempt excavations start to finish in one shot, or over 2-3 consecutive days, because I simply do not trust idiots and I can't be out there babysitting the fossil and playing the part of park ranger.

I agree completely.  

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Williamb55
On 11/30/2017 at 10:51 AM, MarcoSr said:

 

Trespassing is a very sore subject for me for many reasons but especially when I see constantly museum quality specimens hacked to bits by poachers/trespassers only interested in ear bones or teeth.  I've seen at least a half dozen, museum worthy, marine mammal specimens destroyed at Stratford Hall by trespassers just over the last two years alone.

 

This whale excavation was made much more difficult by trespassers.  A trespasser actually started the excavation of this specimen by poaching exposed vertebrae.  They dug a very long shallow, flat hole (instead of a stronger arch shaped hole) which caused the cliff to crack around the hole which made it very dangerous to work on the specimens initially. My sons had to put a temporary jacket on what was exposed to protect it and wait for the cliff to come down. Six months later there was a pretty big slide of the material which was above the specimen.  After that my sons could excavate the specimen further.  In addition, on two separate occasions poachers broke open the jackets that my sons had placed upon the fossils to steal bones. They broke off the end and took a piece of a perfect lower whale jaw that was jacketed.  As Jack described above, Theresa caught poachers breaking up a jacket of vertebrae and ribs and throwing the items on the beach so they could take them.

 

Westmoreland State Park issued twice as many tickets this year as last for people collecting under their cliffs.  My sons and I are on a Virginia Park and Recs permit that permits us to collect in the WSP cliff area.  That permit is why we could remove this whale skull for the park legally.  These permits rarely get issued unless the permit holders are associated with a museum or agency like the USGS.

 

Sratford Hall has had a number of trespassers arrested over the last two years.  I know of at least one conviction and several other cases coming to trial soon.

 

There is much less tolerance in the area now for anyone trespassing.  Instead of just warnings, which weren't deterring anyone, more and more trespassers have been given tickets or arrested.  It won't work as an excuse any more, if when caught, you claim "you didn't know you were trespassing", or "it was your first time" or "you didn't see the signs".  People claiming "they know their rights and that they can be walking in the water because it belongs to Maryland" and argue about leaving don't know Virginia law (Virginia land owners own to the mean low tide not like in Maryland where the landowners only own to the mean high tide.  Huge difference.) which applies along the Potomac River.  Also the bays and stream mouths on the Virginia side of the Potomac can completely be in Virginia and under Virginia maritime police jurisdiction.   We are no longer arguing with these people.  They are just being arrested.

 

So to the trespassers, eventually you will be caught and arrested.  In addition you are causing land owners to press for laws preventing all fossil collecting along the Potomac River unless you have a permit.  When that eventually happens and it will, you can blame all these folks who think that the laws don't apply to them.

 

Marco Sr.

I appreciate your comment and the care you put forth to preserve these specimens for the future. I am just curious because I have been collecting for 6+ years now, but now that I am older I am looking for better places to collect and I have discovered how exclusive fossil collecting is in the VA/MD area. Besides the very few public beaches where you almost always have to pay a fee, everything in the area is private or boat-accessible-only. I really enjoy fossil collecting and I have paid to go on a few private tours under the cliffs at some locations, but I simply cannot find access or the resources to other fossil sites. I will admit I may have stepped my distance beyond the orange tape and to be honest those have been some of my BEST days of collecting. I understand the property laws and how most of the cliffs are private, but I always see tons of other people with amazing finds from these locations. It seems like if you don't know someone who owns property then you are stuck to paying $10 to park at an overcollected beach. So I'm just asking here if you have any suggestions or any tips for a young hunter like me? I also heard you mention the permits, but then said they are very rare to be handed out?

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WhodamanHD

@Williamb55 Brownies is free this time of year. Over-collected maybe, but some finds to be bad there nonetheless. Also has the bonus of being completely legal. You can get to the more exclusive areas by building up trust with landowners in the area. I live a bit far away for this, but I still make an effort. Best way to a nice collecting is being nice and conversing with fellow hunter in the area, building a good reputation with landowners, and knowing the laws. On the bay just staying below tide is legal. No permits needed as of yet, but with people digging into the cliffs, trespassing, and doing other Ill-advised things it may not be long. That’s why I keep my options open, people underestimate Maryland’s western fossils.

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Williamb55
6 minutes ago, WhodamanHD said:

@Williamb55 Brownies is free this time of year. Over-collected maybe, but some finds to be bad there nonetheless. Also has the bonus of being completely legal. You can get to the more exclusive areas by building up trust with landowners in the area. I live a bit far away for this, but I still make an effort. Best way to a nice collecting is being nice and conversing with fellow hunter in the area, building a good reputation with landowners, and knowing the laws. On the bay just staying below tide is legal. No permits needed as of yet, but with people digging into the cliffs, trespassing, and doing other Ill-advised things it may not be long. That’s why I keep my options open, people underestimate Maryland’s western fossils.

Thanks for your feedback. I just went to Brownies for the first time this past weekend and had a fun hunt, found a pretty cool sperm whale tooth actually. I guess you're right about talking to people out on the beach to build trust, but it's hard being 1.5+ hour away. I thought I would be the first one at the beach at 6 am, but was surprised to see another hunter already out there Saturday morning

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WhodamanHD
9 minutes ago, Williamb55 said:

Thanks for your feedback. I just went to Brownies for the first time this past weekend and had a fun hunt, found a pretty cool sperm whale tooth actually. I guess you're right about talking to people out on the beach to build trust, but it's hard being 1.5+ hour away. I thought I would be the first one at the beach at 6 am, but was surprised to see another hunter already out there Saturday morning

Some get out really early. I’m 1.5 hours away as well, just gotta nite the bullet and hope for the best. You should post the cetecean tooth sometime.

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Williamb55
Just now, WhodamanHD said:

Some get out really early. I’m 1.5 hours away as well, just gotta nite the bullet and hope for the best. You should post the cetecwan tooth sometime.

I'll make a post about it! I really love all of my cetecean fossils. 

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WhodamanHD
1 minute ago, Williamb55 said:

I'll make a post about it! I really love all of my cetecean fossils. 

You really must, you spelled it right!:P

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Williamb55
16 minutes ago, WhodamanHD said:

You really must, you spelled it right!:P

Just posted it!

:dinothumb:

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MarcoSr
16 hours ago, Williamb55 said:

I appreciate your comment and the care you put forth to preserve these specimens for the future. I am just curious because I have been collecting for 6+ years now, but now that I am older I am looking for better places to collect and I have discovered how exclusive fossil collecting is in the VA/MD area. Besides the very few public beaches where you almost always have to pay a fee, everything in the area is private or boat-accessible-only. I really enjoy fossil collecting and I have paid to go on a few private tours under the cliffs at some locations, but I simply cannot find access or the resources to other fossil sites. I will admit I may have stepped my distance beyond the orange tape and to be honest those have been some of my BEST days of collecting. I understand the property laws and how most of the cliffs are private, but I always see tons of other people with amazing finds from these locations. It seems like if you don't know someone who owns property then you are stuck to paying $10 to park at an overcollected beach. So I'm just asking here if you have any suggestions or any tips for a young hunter like me? I also heard you mention the permits, but then said they are very rare to be handed out?

 

When I started collecting in the 1970s there were over a 100 places I could collect without needing a boat.  Landowners were extremely friendly and granted permission to collect their property often.  However as the years went by, land owners got tired of the trash left behind, their dirt roads rutted, their cliffs dug in, trespassers arguing that they had a right to be on their beaches.  Communities started to worry about collectors getting hurt on their property and suing them.  Now almost no one gives permission to collect on their property unless they have known you for years.  You can thank all of those trespassers showing their amazing finds to others for why there are so few legal sites now.  There are now only a handful of over collected public access areas remaining in MD and northern Virginia.

 

If you don't have a PHD and aren't associated with a museum or government agency like the USGS you won't get a state or federal permit in your name period.  If you help museums and donate a lot you can be added to one of their permits.  However, everything found using permits has to be donated.  If you have a boat you can collect to the mean high tide line in MD.  This opens up a lot of areas along the Bay and Maryland Rivers.  However in Maryland some land owners will still try to run you off of their beaches.  Totally different story in Virginia.  Land owners own to the mean low tide line.  So unless you are there on a tidal blowout, if you are on a Virginia beach, you are on private property.

 

The best you can do is to volunteer and help your local museum/museums and build a good reputation.  This may get you on their permits and help you get permission with other private landowners.

 

Marco Sr.

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Williamb55
1 hour ago, MarcoSr said:

 

When I started collecting in the 1970s there were over a 100 places I could collect without needing a boat.  Landowners were extremely friendly and granted permission to collect their property often.  However as the years went by, land owners got tired of the trash left behind, their dirt roads rutted, their cliffs dug in, trespassers arguing that they had a right to be on their beaches.  Communities started to worry about collectors getting hurt on their property and suing them.  Now almost no one gives permission to collect on their property unless they have known you for years.  You can thank all of those trespassers showing their amazing finds to others for why there are so few legal sites now.  There are now only a handful of over collected public access areas remaining in MD and northern Virginia.

 

If you don't have a PHD and aren't associated with a museum or government agency like the USGS you won't get a state or federal permit in your name period.  If you help museums and donate a lot you can be added to one of their permits.  However, everything found using permits has to be donated.  If you have a boat you can collect to the mean high tide line in MD.  This opens up a lot of areas along the Bay and Maryland Rivers.  However in Maryland some land owners will still try to run you off of their beaches.  Totally different story in Virginia.  Land owners own to the mean low tide line.  So unless you are there on a tidal blowout, if you are on a Virginia beach, you are on private property.

 

The best you can do is to volunteer and help your local museum/museums and build a good reputation.  This may get you on their permits and help you get permission with other private landowners.

 

Marco Sr.

It is a shame that it has become the way it is now. Maybe one day I’ll meet someone who has the access to a private beach.

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