Massive million-year-old shark tooth washes ashore after Hurricane Matthew, expert says

At left is the Megalodon tooth Nat and Peggy Campbell found in North Myrtle Beach the day after Hurricane Matthew came through.
At left is the Megalodon tooth Nat and Peggy Campbell found in North Myrtle Beach the day after Hurricane Matthew came through. Submitted photo

While Hurricane Matthew brought destruction in its wake, the storm also washed up treasures across the East Coast.

In North Myrtle Beach, just outside the Tilghman Beach and Golf Resort, Matthew washed up a Megalodon tooth, an artifact from what used the be the world’s largest shark.

“I was pretty excited when I picked this one up,” said Nat Campbell, finder of the tooth.

Nat and his wife Peggy – a couple from Amherst, Va., who annually spend a month in the area on vacation – went searching for shark teeth the day after the storm hit. They never thought they’d discover something so big.

“[We went out with] strainers, it was the day after the hurricane,” Nat Campbell said. “I guess it was Sunday morning. I was standing at the edge of the surf and I looked to my left and saw something out of the corner of my eye. My wife thought it was a rock.”

The couple took the tooth to Ripley’s Aquarium to have it verified by aquarist Brady Stoever.

“They told me down there it was a Megalodon and that it’s millions of years old,” Nat Campbell said. “The shark itself grew up to be 50 to 60 feet long. It’s just amazing to me that something that old could still be around.”

“They just came in,” Stoever said. “They pulled the tooth out and asked me a couple of questions about it. I told them it was a Megalodon tooth. It was about five inches long, in really good shape.”

Stoever said that one of the things he looks for in a shark tooth is if it still has enamel on it. This basically means how shiny the tooth is, which helps to determine the value of the tooth.

This tooth was valued at more than $100, and is thought to be more than 1 million years old.

Tom Pierce, a shark expert from the Gay Dolphin, said that the size of the shark can be determined from the tooth, but only if it is known if the tooth came from the front or side of the mouth.

“If it came from the front it was probably a 40-foot shark,” Pierce said. “If it was a side tooth it could have come from a larger shark.”

The largest Megalodon shark would range from 60 to 70 feet long.

Pierce said that the size of this tooth rules out that it came from a great white shark.

“Great whites only get up to about three inches,” Pierce said.

It is thought that the Megalodon sharks went extinct about 2,500,000 years ago, according to Stoever.

While these kinds of teeth typically show up more around Charleston, it was expected that Hurricane Michael would wash up artifacts in unlikely locations.

“Since we had this hurricane come through, with all the winds and waves they create, they can bring in some weird stuff,” Stoever said. “I was expecting there to be a lot of shark teeth to wash up because of the storm.”

For avid collectors like the Campbells, Hurricane Matthew was more helpful than hurtful.

“I save all the ones I find but I haven’t found anything really big. For the last three years we stay a month in October and that’s what I do everyday,” Nat Campbell said. “We enjoy coming to Myrtle Beach, and finding something like this makes us want to come back even more.”

Megan Tomasic: 843-626-0343, @MeganTomasic