Shark Tooth Fairy working to change laws on SC shark tooth collecting
In hopes of changing the laws and again hosting the popular shark tooth treasure hunts at the Sands in Port Royal, Mike Harris, Beaufort’s ‘Shark Tooth Fairy,’ is helping to lead the charge to loosen state regulations of shark-tooth collecting for divers along the S.C. coast.
In an article published Wednesday by The State newspaper in Columbia, at issue is a 1991 state law intended to protect historic artifacts and fossils from being carted off by private collectors. The law requires anyone diving for shark’s teeth to get a license and report what they have found. Most divers get state permission to keep the fossilized sharks’ teeth that they find.
Harris states that diving for fossilized shark’s teeth a harmless activity that is being over-regulated.
Harris hosted five or six events at The Sands in Port Royal starting in 2014. He would take hundreds of pounds of shark and megalodon teeth that he would find on his dives and scatter them all over the beach for kids to find. Crowds numbered in the hundreds at his hunts and were a favorite event for local children.
“The South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology had given me the task of providing fossil reports with GPS locations for every single piece of almost 2 tons of shark teeth and fossils that I gave to kids back in 2014. Since I can’t provide these impossible reports they revoked my South Carolina Diver License and basically made it illegal for me to be the Shark Tooth Fairy in the future,” Harris told ESPB in a prior interview.
Harris’ license was not renewed in 2016 and he had to stop the kids events. However, his license was restored in late 2017, The State reports.
Harris told The State that the system is a bureaucratic mess. He and others favor doing away with some of the licensing requirements, which do not apply to beachcombers who pick up shark’s teeth on the seashore.
The report says after speaking with Harris, state Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, introduced a bill this month that would abolish licensing requirements for what the state considers “hobby” collectors, those not focused on taking large quantities of sharks’ teeth from the ocean and tidelands.
While the bill’s chances of making it through the Legislature are limited this year, at least it’s going somewhere.
We would love to see the treasure hunts continue at The Sands. As evident at every event, the kids loved them. They got to find something that may otherwise take an entire lifetime to find. They became interested in natural history as a result of these hunts. These hunts created memories for our children and provided them with good, clean fun.It’s good for Port Royal and for Beaufort.