How to Find Shark Teeth, Seashells, Fossils and More on Topsail Island

How to Find Shark Teeth, Seashells, Fossils and More on Topsail Island | Ward Realty

Let the treasure hunt begin!

Blackbeard's gold is probably not going to turn up today, but if you set your sights on uncovering some of nature's bounty, look no further than Topsail Island! Our shores are ripe for the picking, especially at low tide or after a windy, swirly storm. 

If you love to make Topsail your vacation destination every year, it just makes sense that you learn more about the treasures you can find along our beautiful beaches (read our blog about why it's always a good idea to learn something new). 

Here, we will show you some of the most common finds that wash up on Topsail Island. 

Shark Teeth

Hunting for shark teeth is surprisingly addictive! Topsail Island is the perfect place to search because our tides bring in new finds every single day. Because sharks are constantly losing and replacing their teeth, one shark might lose thousands in his lifetime! 

Here is a list of some of the more common species that wash up on the shore. And while your eyes will become trained to spot the tiny, more common teeth… don’t forget to look out for the rare but magical larger shark teeth you can really write home about!

Lemon Shark | Ward Realty

Lemon Shark

These sharks live in social groups and are named for their pale yellow color. 

Snaggletooth Shark | Ward Realty

Snaggletooth Shark

Easy to find, you'll recognize these teeth by the bump in the middle, on the root of the tooth. 

Great White Shark | Ward Realty

Great White

These teeth have super sharp serrations on the sides for ripping apart prey! 

Mako Shark | Ward Realty

Atlantic Shortfin Mako Shark

Long and pointy teeth match this shark's long and pointy head! These guys are fast and known to attack humans from time to time. 

Bull Shark | Ward Realty

Bull Shark

Considered one of the most dangerous sharks in the world, their teeth are the most commonly found on our beaches. 

Tiger Shark | Ward Realty

Tiger Shark

These teeth are short, wide and strong. Voracious feeders, tiger sharks can get up to 18 feet long. 

A few tips about shark tooth hunting: At first, it might seem really hard to spot a tooth. Some are very, very tiny and it takes a trained eye to see them! Often, children are better at this than adults. But with time and experience you will spot them more and more quickly as you sift through a handful of sand and shells. 

We recommend purchasing a small sifter to help you work. It should have a very fine mesh that will sift out the sand but not your treasures (something like this works well). A zip-top plastic bag is also useful to gather your finds. 

👉 Download this wonderful printable to bring with you on your next adventure, courtesy of

Other commonly found fossils

While searching for shark teeth you are very likely to come across strange looking objects that you know aren't seashells but they aren't shark teeth, either. What the heck are they? Here are some common fossils we have found around Topsail Island: 

Sea Urchin Spines | Ward Realty

Sea Urchin Spines

These isolated spines are often found as fossils. Sea Urchins are an ancient species and were even around 450 million years ago! 

Coral | Ward Realty


You will find lots of chunks of fossilized coral among your seashells and shark teeth. They are usually bleached white or cream. 

Stingray Barb | Ward Realty

Stingray Barb

Isn't it amazing how well-fossilized these can be?  Detailed, right down to the tiny barbs on the sides. 

Images courtesy of the Aurora Fossil Museum and


Every beach has its own collection of shells that are commonly found, and Topsail is no exception! Here are several of North Carolina's most common seashells, each beautiful in their own way. 

Scotch Bonnet | Ward Realty

Scotch Bonnet

North Carolina's state shell! Only about 2" long, they are hard to find and a real treasure. 

Whelk | Ward Realty


With a conical shape and beautiful stripes, these are common on Topsail (although rare to find in one piece!). 

Clam Shells | Ward Realty

Clam Shells

We love all the colors, both inside and out, that make up the humble clam shell. 

Sand Dollar | Ward Realty

Sand Dollar

Not technically a shell but still fun to find! These flat sea urchins show nature's beauty and symmetry. 

Scallop Shell | Ward Realty

Scallop Shell

These beautiful shells look like a fan and come in many shapes and sizes. 

Auger Shell | Ward Realty

Auger Shell

This shell looks like a corkscrew, but our kids call them "unicorn horns". Plentiful and fun to collect! 

Don't forget to glance at our blog, All You Need to Have for the Best Shelling on Topsail for awesome tips and suggestions to get the most out of your shelling experience! 

More things you will find on Topsail...

Keep an eye out for other critters, creatures, grasses, seaweed and more as you walk along our beaches or fish from our piers. 

Black & Red Drum Fish | Ward RealtyBlack & Red Drum Fish

Drum are commonly caught off our coast and the Red Drum is the official NC saltwater fish! Read more here

Jellyfish | Ward Realty


You might come across something that looks like a plastic bag on the beach, but watch out! It might be a jellyfish or Man O' War. 

Ghost Crabs | Ward Realty

Ghost Crabs

Harmless creatures, these little crabs live in groups and burrow into the sand. Kids might have fun looking for them with a flashlight in the early evening hours. 


Seagrasses are very important for the fish that make their homes and reproduce in our coastal waters and sounds. The grass provides a safe hiding spot, releases oxygen, and serves as a biological filter, cleaning the water around it. 

Eelgrass | Ward Realty


This hardy grass helps protect juvenile fish from predators with its thick, tall leaves. 

Shoal Grass | Ward Realty

Shoal Grass

Shoalgrass has thinner and shorter leaves and grows at shallower depths. 

Topsail Island is home to so many amazing creatures, and families love coming to our beaches to hunt for all of the treasures that come from the sea. Looking for shark teeth or seashells is just one of the many fun (and free) ways our vacationers like to pass the time when they visit. 

If you haven't booked your next trip to Topsail Island yet, now is a great time to take a look at our available rentals. Ward Realty would love to help you make memories your family will never forget! 

Book your next vacation now.

Speak to our friendly reservationist today! 

Topsail Island Rentals | 800.782.6216

How to Find Shark Teeth, Seashells, Fossils and More on Topsail Island | Ward Realty

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