Hints and Tips to Keep Safe when Fossil Hunting near the Coast

After so much bad weather over the last few weeks and with the increased number of mudslides and landslips along the Dorset coast, team members at Everything Dinosaur thought it would be helpful to publish a list of hints and tips to help keep fossil hunters safe.  These hints and tips are useful advice for fossil collectors in general, but we have listed below a few specific guidelines to help those fossil hunters who might be exploring beaches for fossils.

When Walking on Coastal Paths or Approaching a Beach

  • Always obey the Countryside Code and be respectful of the environment
  • Keep well away from cliff edges and unsure that children and pets are kept under control and properly supervised
  • Take your litter home with you
  • Observe and obey all restricted access and diversion signs
  • Take advice from the local tourist office or National Trust Office about specific parts of the national coastal pathway
On the Beach
  • Always stay away from the cliffs
  • Do not climb on the cliffs or any recent landslips/mudflows
  • Tell a responsible person where you are going and when you are expected back
  • Have a mobile phone handy in case of emergencies
  • Beware of the threat of landslides, especially during or just after bad weather
  • Note the tide times particularly high tide and take the advice of the local coastguard etc.
  • Aim to collect fossils on a falling tide, be aware of the incoming tide especially around headlands where you could easily get cut off
  • In rough weather, be aware of strong winds and high waves and the fact that the footing underneath might be treacherous
  • Wear suitable clothing and shoes

When Collecting Fossils

  • Do not collect or hammer into the cliffs, rocky ledges or other geological features
  • The best and safest place to find fossils is on the beach where the sea has washed away soft clay and mud – let nature do some work for you
  • Keep collecting to a minimum, don’t be greedy, perhaps select a few specimens at the end of the session to take home
  • Avoid removing “in situ” material be content with a photograph, leave the fossils for someone else to enjoy
  • Do not collect from buildings or walls.  Take care not to undermine fences, bridges stone walls etc.
  • Take your litter home with you
  • Observe all notices, some land is privately owned and fossil collecting is not permitted without permission

These are just a few pointers to help make fossil hunting safe and to allow the hobby of fossil collecting to continue without causing harm to others and the environment.

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