More than shark teeth

Maryland Independent - - News - By SARAH FALLIN sfallin@somd­news.com

Say “Calvert Cliffs State Park,” and many minds will im­me­di­ately jump to the shark teeth that can be found on the beach near the cliffs.

But much more can be found both on and off the beach within Calvert Cliffs State Park. Ali­cia Lind­bom, sea­sonal ranger, said most vis­i­tors to the park take the 1.8-mile red trail to the beach and back, and many don’t know what else can be seen and done at the park.

“The hard­est part about ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple about the park it is more than just the beach. … The fos­sils aren’t go­ing any­where,” she said.

Lind­bom said at the very least, don’t rush straight to the beach, but en­joy the walk there. There’s plenty of wildlife that can be seen along the red trail and the wet­land that runs along one side of it near the beach. The trail is not hand­i­capped-ac­ces­si­ble, but by call­ing the park two weeks in advance, a beach trans­port can be ar­ranged for those who wish to have as­sis­tance reach­ing the beach.

In ad­di­tion to the red trail, the park has miles of other trails. For fans of the red trail, Lind­bom rec­om­mends try­ing out the or­ange trail, which starts in the north­ern end of the park­ing lot and makes a half loop to the beach. The or­ange trail is slightly longer than the red trail at 2.4 miles each way. The or­ange trail has more hills and goes through an­other wet­land and over a bridge con­structed as an Eagle Scout project.

Bikes and horses can be rid­den on the ac­cess road, which is a more chal­leng­ing trail that con­nects other trails. A por­tion of the park is also avail­able to hunt dur­ing hunt­ing sea­son. There’s also an area for groups to camp.

Some lo­cals come to the park quite fre­quently, Lind­bom said, and they are able to get a very full ex­pe­ri­ence, see­ing how the park changes over time and with the sea­sons. For in­stance, beavers are more ac­tive in the fall.

For those want­ing to take their fos­sil hunt­ing to the next level, al­most ev­ery­thing that can be picked out of the sand is a fos­sil of some kind. If a piece is shiny, it’s not a fos­sil, Lind­bom said. Most of the things that can be gath­ered are frag­ments be­tween 8 mil­lion and 10 mil­lion years old be­cause the present-day lo­ca­tion is at the bot­tom of an an­cient ocean floor.

Al­though shark teeth can be found, so can an­cient scal­lop and clam pieces, con­glom­er­ates of other fos­sils, teeth of skates and rays, ver­te­brae, cor­ral and more. The key to find­ing big­ger or more highly sought-af­ter fos­sils like shark teeth is pa­tience, prac­tice and luck, Lind­bom said.

One mis­con­cep­tion about the park is that fos­sils can only be found among the cliffs. It is pro­hib­ited to go on the cliffs, Lind­bom said, but there are plenty of fos­sils to be found on the beach at the park and any other public beach on the same stretch of the bay, in­clud­ing the beach at Flag Ponds Na­ture Park.

For­mal fos­sil talks are sched­uled each week­end on the beach dur­ing the sum­mer, in­clud­ing at 2:30 p.m. on Satur­day, Sept. 3. Other events are sched­uled dur­ing the La­bor Day week­end, in­clud­ing a sein­ing net demon­stra­tion on Sun­day, Sept. 4, and a fos­sil talk on Mon­day, Sept. 5, both at 2 p.m.

STAFF PHOTO BY SARAH FALLIN

Sea­sonal ranger Ali­cia Lind­bom shows Ri­ley Fehr, 3, of Ca­tonsville dif­fer­ent fos­sils that can be found on the beach at Calvert Cliffs State Park.

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