How Dark Is It Diving For Megalodon Teeth?

Some dives you can not see your gauges
Most dives you have to feel for megalodon teeth
Megalodon teeth are often not inspected until after surfacing
The rivers in the Southeast United States that hold megalodon and other fossilized shark teeth are often very scary places to dive, one of those reasons is the complete lack of visibility. There are dangers outlined in my article
"Is Darkwater Diving Dangerous" but a lot of them start with the inability to see. I dive with high power lights which sometimes give me a few inches of visibility to find some of the megalodon teeth for sale I have in my online store.



"Really How Dark Is It Down There?"


People sometimes ask "just how dark is it down there?" my typical answer is with your lights off you can not tell if your eyes are open are closed. These two pictures will give you an idea of how dark the water can be, in the first picture my blue and yellow glove just inches below the surface are already partly obscured while my bright yellow collection bag about a foot under the water is barely visible. The next picture shows me going under.
The visibility in this river was really pretty good that day, but even on a good day it is not uncommon to be in total blackness until you are just a few feet from the surface.


Many scuba divers ask me if it is similar to being on a night dive, and in some respects it is.  If you turn off your dive light on a night dive though you can usually see not only your buddies light, but the lights of other divers.  In the dark water rivers that I often find myself in looking for megalodon teeth and other fossils that is not the case.  Many times you dive by yourself so seeing another light is very unlikely, but even when diving with a buddy you can loose visual contact with them and their light after as little as 3 feet. 

The reason for the visibility and light loss is two fold, the first is when megalodon or fossil diving you are often a ways under water, as you get deeper in clear water light diminishes, that is why diving in areas with great visibility (100+) things get darker as you go deeper, you loose colors etc.
The real reason for low visibility and darkness though is sediment or minerals in the water.  Some rivers have silt or small sand particles that make the water cloudy, other rivers have minerals in them that cause the water to be a dark tea or coffee color.  When those dark mineral rivers also have sediment mixed in them you get a chocolate milk like effect and visibility is greatly reduced.

Just how bad does it get?  There are days that I have been unable to see my dive computer with it pressed up against my mask, the water gets so loaded with sediment that you really can not see your hand in front of your face.  Sometimes when it gets that bad I find it easier to close my eyes, because the small bits of sediment flowing by my mask right in front of my face can be hard on the eyes as they try to focus on the small fast moving particles.

So how do you find megalodon  teeth and other fossils if the visibility is that bad?  When the visibility gets really bad, and even when it is moderately good (1 foot or better) I find that many of the megalodon teeth, whale ear bones, and other fossils I find are by feel.  Keep in mind I am on the bottom of the river essentially crawling along the bottom, if the current is bad I have 1-2 spikes that I use to get traction and move along but if the current is doable I will only use 1 spike or none, freeing my hands up to search around through the sand, clay, gravel, and mud for things that feel like a tooth. 
I would say that in general due to both a lot of feeling around for megalodon teeth and diving in rivers that have really bad visibility I would say I find about 50% of the teeth I do find by feel.

 


In this picture the visibility is pretty good, this was taken near the surface in an area that is known for having pretty good visibility. The picture above is of my arm and you can see my shoulder up close and just make out my hand at the far end.

 


This picture shows some concrete blocks that were put along a river to prevent erosion. One of the blocks has an older Coca-Cola bottle stuck in it, you can see the block is about 2" under the surface at one end and the upper left corner is about 6" under the surface, that gives you an idea how quickly light and visibility can diminish in some of the rivers in which I dive for megalodon teeth.