ABC-7 recently reported a cover story on DeSoto County-based fossil hunting team Fossil Recovery Exploration. Read the report below or click on the link to watch the video.

Fossil hunting leads to history-fueled finds along the Peace River – ABC7 Southwest Florida (

ARCADIA, Fla. — Southwest Florida is fairly popular when it comes to shark teeth hunting, but did you know there is a place nearby where you not only can find those, but much more?

On the Peace River near Arcadia, there’s a growing hobby of Ice Age Mammal Teeth hunting, fueled by finds posted to social media. A recent find by a woman from Jacksonville is getting some attention.

Springtime on the Peace River is the busiest time of the year for fossil hunting, thanks to low water levels making conditions ideal. Airboat tours are constantly on the move.

“This has kind of been the thing you never wanted to do until you do it, and then you can’t stop,” said guide Chris Mandel, from Fossil Recovery Exploration.

As Mandel helped his clients to identify their finds, like various kinds of shark teeth, he beamed as he held up something else: A partially intact, fossilized Mastadon Tooth, as large as a softball.

“When it comes to fossil hunting in Florida, people just think sharks teeth, but there’s much much more to find than sharks teeth, especially Ice Age Mammals. I think they are the best,” Mandel said.

Its recent high-profile finds posted to social media from the Peace River have led to an explosion in popularity for fossil hunting here, including the recent discovery of a fossilized bear incisor by Amy Gandy of Jacksonville. It’s a rare find for the Peace River.

“I thought it was the dolphin tooth at first, and the next day I was showing somebody, and he was like no ma’am, that’s a bear incisor!” Gandy said.

For Gandy, who made the drive all the way down from Jacksonville to the Peace River for the find, it’s a pastime that for her has become life-changing.

“Instead of doing drugs, I like to find and look for shark’s teeth,” Gandy said.

And as fossil hunting on the Peace River only becomes more popular, the more unique finds draw people to try it themselves.

“The thrill lies in the youth, the collector, and the hunter. And when you have these things, and you can show them to your friends and family, I think it holds a lot of value.” Mandel said.

In order to go fossil hunting in Public Waterways in the State of Florida, you need to have a Florida Fossil Hunting Permit. However, you don’t have to pay for a permit if you go with an already licensed fossil hunting charter, like Fossil Recovery Exploration.

-Source: ABC-7