A fossil fanatic, beachcomber Rasmus Dahl collects many different varieties of sea urchin fossils, which include echinocorys, galerite, cyclaster, and micraster—a heart-shaped urchin that is extremely rare in his area, and which is also his favorite. The sea urchin fossils Rasmus finds in Denmark aren’t only beautiful—they are relics of the cretaceous sea, which covered the area of modern-day Denmark 65-million years ago.
“Sea urchins were common in the cretaceous sea, which was situated right where Denmark is now,” explains Rasmus. “There is a band from the northwest to the southeast of Denmark where these fossils are accessible. And, that’s where we lucky collectors can find them.”
Rasmus has been collecting fossils for about thirty years, since he was just a young boy. He mainly collects in Thy in the Limfjord, a shallow part of the sea with inlets from the North Sea and Kattegat, but also enjoys going to the Cliffs of Sangstrup, at the entrance to the Baltic Sea. Today, he beachcombs about twice per week, and mostly enjoys going alone, but occasionally he goes with his friends or his wife, Maia, and three children, Magnus (2), Ida (5), and Lærke (7).
“I love to go beachcombing alone. I love the sound of the water,” says Rasmus. “But I also like going with family and friends. Not many of my friends like beachcombing as much as I do, but my neighbor likes sea urchin fossil hunting, too, so we often go together.” Rasmus says most of his friends think his hobby is cool but also very nerdy, though he says some of his family members collect urchins, as well.
He goes to the beach whenever he has a chance, using a flashlight if it’s dark. “I love it when I spot a nice sea urchin on the beach,” smiles Rasmus. “That feeling is great.”
When he’s not out on the beach, Rasmus teaches Danish, music, and physical education to eight– and nine-year-old students. As a teacher and a busy father, Rasmus doesn’t have as much time to beachcomb as he would like, but when he does search, Ramsus only brings home the best fossils, and leaves the rest on the beach. Despite being selective about what he brings home, over the years, Rasmus has collected 6,000 sea urchin fossils, which he displays in jars at home. Sometimes he adds sea glass and other colorful stones to the jars to add to their color.
Someday, Rasmus would like to visit the coasts of England, Germany, and France, where sea urchin fossils are also very common. Until then, you’ll find him combing the beaches of the Limfjord in this beautiful coastal area of Denmark that is home to unique flora, fauna…and fossils.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2020 issue.