Tybee Business Spotlight: Tybee Shark Teeth Tours
Shark teeth hunting is an island pastime revered by many. There’s something special about the excitement of finding your very own shark tooth to memorialize a fun beach day. It’s a physical gift you can cherish forever. Add it to a collection of found objects, wear it as a necklace or incorporate it into artwork — the possibilities are endless. There’s only one problem. Shark teeth can be hard to come by if you don’t know how to spot them. That’s where Tybee Shark Teeth Tours comes in. Owner Kaytelynne Brown teaches beachgoers of all ages how to find shark teeth using science, taking all of the guesswork out of hunting for these tiny treasures.
After a successful soft launch in December 2022, Tybee Shark Teeth Tours officially opened to the public last spring. The business was born rather organically from Brown’s experience on the beach with her kids. The origin story began a few years ago after the Brown family relocated to Tybee from Cartersville, Georgia.
“It started with my children and I wanting to find shark teeth on Tybee, Ansley, my oldest daughter had found a couple and when COVID hit everyone was homeschooling so we took our lessons to the beach and used the elements present to complete lessons.” said Brown. “ The more we learned, the more shark teeth we found. The more we found, the more we wanted to find. We also found several fossils, and I began to buy books to help identify those items as well as the teeth. I soon realized, just like anything else, finding shark teeth can be a learned skill. But more importantly, a learning experience.”
Onlookers would see Brown and her little ones and inquire about what they were up to. When she said she was finding shark teeth, people would respond in disbelief, some stating that they’d lived on Tybee their entire lives and never once found a shark tooth, much less found shark teeth. Beachgoers kept showing interest and Brown soon realized that she was onto something, so she decided to start sharing what she had learned with others. And from that humble beginning, Tybee Shark Teeth Tours has since been flourishing. With a fun slogan of “Happy Hunting!” and knowing from personal experience how addicting the hunt can become, Brown has shared her passion with locals and visitors alike showing them that “It’s always a great day to learn something new.”
“I remember the first person who paid me after spotting me on the beach, and I taught them. They told me that they never thought they would actually find a shark tooth on their own. I remember being in disbelief when my excel spreadsheet showed that over 500 people had booked. I’ve now taught well over a thousand people how to find shark teeth, and I still am in awe of it all,” Brown remarked. “This is my second full summer open and I now have created a team of tour guides and helpers who are as equally passionate as I am about sharing the joy of finding shark teeth with others.”
Brown and her tour guides offer public and private walking tours that last about one hour, imparting valuable knowledge all throughout.
“We walk along the beach and look in different shell beds to find shark teeth. Once you learn how to find them, you can apply your newfound knowledge wherever you are staying on Tybee. I use several different elements to help us know the best place to take everyone on each particular day. The beach changes every single day therefore our location changes almost daily as well. We don’t always go to the north end or the south end. We go where the best shell beds are showing for that day. . . There’s very few locations on Tybee I’ve yet to find a shark’s tooth,” she explained.
Brown takes all the information she’s amassed from her personal hunting experience — and many, many books — and packages it into a fun engaging lesson, which patrons can apply to any fossiliferous beach environment, not just Tybee.
“The techniques and tips that are being taught have enabled those who have booked to find shark teeth at other locations, including Hilton Head, Amelia Island, Folly Beach and even Panama City Beach” she revealed.
Brown’s process involves a special combination of science and strategy, and so far, it’s been solid.
“I’ve yet to have a tour where anybody went home empty-handed,” she said.
Typically, at least 10-15 teeth are found during a tour, Brown always ensures that little ones find teeth first. Tybee Shark Teeth Tours caters to families as Brown, a mother of 3 herself, sought out to create a fun, memorable experience for beachcombers of all ages, taking even the smallest of details into consideration.
“We even take group and family pictures and send them to you after the tour,” she exclaimed. “ I share these on our social media pages along with pictures of happy hunters who find a tooth all on their own during the tour,” said Brown. “Tybee needed a fun experience for families to do together that was inclusive, safe, and unique.”
Inclusivity is important to Brown, and she also wanted to make the experience accessible to those with special needs. So, she developed a curated tour that allows for those who need special accommodations to receive them. Now offering a ‘Seek and Sift’ tour designed specifically for those with mobility or mental challenges.
“No one should miss out on the joy of discovering the beach’s hidden treasures, regardless of physical or mental limitations,” she affirmed.
In addition to her special needs tour, Brown also offers virtual, interactive tours to schools.
“We do it via Zoom, allowing it to be an interactive experience, where students can not only watch and learn right from their classroom, but also ask questions in real time. I teach everything that I would teach during a regularly booked tour, and then I mail all of the items to the school . . . creating a continued learning experience in the classroom, allowing students to see and feel the items found,” she said.
It’s clear that Brown is passionate about sharing her shark teeth secrets with anyone who wants to learn regardless of age or ability. She encourages locals and tourists alike to book with Tybee Shark Teeth Tours.
“Truly, it’s such a wonderful experience. We really teach you how to spot them on your own. . . We don’t just hand you teeth. We literally teach you the science behind how and where we find them. You can even tell just by looking at the layout of the beach once you walk out if you’re in a good area or not. . . Whether you’re a lifelong islander or a vacationing tourist, Tybee Shark Teeth Tours promises an educational and entertaining experience. The rush of finding your first shark tooth is just the beginning. The thrill compounds with each new discovery,” Brown stated.
Fostering fun is what Tybee Shark Teeth Tours is all about. And part of that is demystifying the hunting process and clearing up misconceptions.
“[The biggest misconception] is that we’re looking for black triangles. You are not looking for black triangles. . . If you come out to Tybee and you look for black triangles, you’re going to pick up an oyster shell every single time,” she clarified.
Brown also shared another helpful tip for shark teeth hunters:
“Wearing a hat is definitely one of the best and most simple tips I can give anyone.”
She asks that customers bring a hat and a water bottle to the tour, and Tybee Shark Teeth Tours provides the rest.
“Everyone who books will receive their own special bag that will hold the teeth and fossils found, including the tiniest of teeth. You can even add on a bag for children under the age of 5, who are free to attend and are encouraged along with others who are booked,” said Brown. “ So come by yourself or with your family, a hat and a water bottle and we will do the rest, We are going to teach you how to use your hat to your benefit, and you’re going to need water to stay hydrated, because once you find one on your own, you might not want to stop!”
To book your next adventure visit Tybee Shark Teeth Tours online, and follow them on Facebook @TybeeSharkTeethTours and Instagram @tybeesharkteethandfossils for the latest updates.
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