'Shark's Tooth Fairy' delights Lowcountry children

01/20/2014 9:12 PM

01/20/2014 9:16 PM

Aubrey Kersey, 4, ran up to her mom with a black object three times the size of the child’s tiny hand.

“I found this! What is it?”

It looked like a piece of vertebrae, their friend, Donna Sailors, said.

“Perfect, just what I always wanted,” Jennifer Kersey told her daughter, who was already scampering off to dig in the sand.

They were among dozens who showed up at The Sands beach in Port Royal on Saturday for what might be one of the more unusual scavenger hunts.

Port Royal resident Mike Harris has been burying and scattering hundreds of sharks teeth and other artifacts he’s collected so children can discover them just as he did as a child.

“Back then you could find one the size of a quarter,” he said. “Now they're all very small and hard for kids to find.”

He said living on a boat doesn’t leave much extra space for expansive collections, so he wanted to share it with others.

He took a 50-pound bucket of six months’ worth of “junk” teeth and bones to the Sands late Wednesday, spread them around and posted on Facebook for people to bring their kids after school to search.

“I had a lot of people share my post and tell me what a great idea it was and (that) they couldn't wait to take their kids or grandkids,” he said. “It made me feel good that it was making people so happy and excited.”

It went so well, Harris dug back through his shark teeth, whale ear bones, dugong ribs, and whale vertebra for more, even throwing in some of the 5-inch Megalodon shark teeth he usually would sell.

“I will be at the Sands around noon on Saturday and I will be wearing Camouflage Army pants. They have holes in the pockets. Hint Hint... I have a feeling teeth will fall out of those pockets in the hunting path of some kids since the big kids beat some of the smaller kids to the easy to find ones today,” he posted.

Alanna Bardo, 7, collected too many pieces to carry and spread them out on the hood of a pickup truck. She called Harris the “Shark Teeth Fairy,” and showed off a whale ear bone she found.

Tina and Eric Saxon followed their 3-year-old, Bailey, around the sand, calling out to her when they spotted something for her to dig up with her little shovel.

“What a cool guy,” Tina Saxon said. “It’s so amazing he would do this.”

Bailey proudly held out her teeth for a photo with Harris, and then showed off her favorite.

“Yeah, it’s a real big one,” she said, spreading her arms — and grin — wide.

Harris said he’ll continue to scatter extra pieces on the beach on weekends and leave hints for those who want to go hunting. As a boat mechanic, work slows down in the winter and he hunts for teeth, which can sell for hundreds of dollars online.

As he wandered the beach, dropping the occasional big tooth near a searching child, it was hard to tell who was more excited.

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