Not everybody simply wants to swim when they visit the beach. In Ashley Oliphant’s unofficial guide, “Shark Tooth Hunting on the Carolina Coast,” she gives ample foundation for beginners to start up a new hobby for their beach adventures.
Oliphant is no scientist or biologist, and she makes that explicitly clear at the beginning of her guide. She is, however, wonderfully educated on her hobby and an assistant professor of literature to boot, both of which makes her writing confident and easy to follow. Her style also keeps the entire book casual, as if two friends were discussing the subject.
The guide begins with some scientific background, such as the basics of understanding what fossils are and the impressive journey behind each fossilized shark tooth. Following the brief explanation is look at the different beach areas where shark teeth can be found. Once more, Oliphant covers basic terminology reminiscent of a beginner’s college course while keeping readers engaged.
In this same section, she also goes over a few tips that beach goers should always keep in mind, such as weather, tides, and wildlife. After that, she delves into breaking down the Carolina coasts by section to give readers an idea of what to expect at each place. Some locations can be considered literal treasure troves, but all of them can also be hit or miss. Oliphant describes some of her own attempts or the experiences other enthusiasts and scientists have had.
Finally, the largest section of the guide is dedicated to identifying the different types of teeth found on our coasts. Accompanying descriptions and features to look for, Oliphant provides numerous pictures, which always displays multiple types of teeth from the same shark. The visual guide is crucial in this hobby and Oliphant has done a wonderful job of being detailed without being excessive.
Oliphant finishes her unofficial guide with some tips on how to display shark teeth, and a few facts on sharks in the Carolinas. In keeping with her casual and friendly tone, she provides a recipe for a cocktail, the “Shark Bite Brew,” to tie her guide to close.
The amount of knowledge and love Oliphant holds for her hobby is perfectly shown in her little guide. The way she writes is also entertaining and far from being complicated, even though she briefly touches some science that could easily become intricate. Instead, she keeps it at the perfect level for hobbyists and enthusiasts to enjoy, no matter what their age.
The understanding and respect that Oliphant possesses for nature and animals is a level all people should aspire to. There’s no doubt that through sharing her guide on shark tooth hunting in our own Carolina coastlines she hopes to inspire people of all ages to come to the same level of reverence, all while retaining bright eyed awe.
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