“Im very lucky” says Whitby’s Mike Marshall, “My job is also my hobby and my office is the beautiful Yorkshire coastline”.
Mike who owns the world renowned Yorkshire Coast Fossils based near Whitby collects fossils from the local coastline and prepares them for sale online at his fully equipped workshop on the outskirts of town.
However that’s not the full story of Mikes business, its really just the tip of the iceberg as his work is of such a high standard he often receives commissions from right around the globe.
A recent project for Yorkshire Coast Fossils is the preparation of a Moroccan found fossilised turtle which will be displayed at the worlds largest fossil show in Tucson Arizona early next year.
Mike was working on the fossil this week and says the Giant turtle will take him 2 weeks to fully prepare before he sends it to the states just before Christmas.
What’s even more amazing about this individual story is that the turtle fossil is one of only 2 in the whole world that is fully intact.
Mikes next major commission will be the preparation or Mark Smiths Ichthyosaur skull which was recently found near Kettleness.
Mike reports that the marine reptile skull should arrive in his workshop in the run up to Christmas and the work should take a month to 6 weeks to get the fossil ready for display in Marks home near Redcar.
Giving more detail to the Ichthyosaur story, Mike says that the skull had been dug from the cliffs at Kettleness over 100 years ago by Victorian miners.
The rock had been extracted and left on the shoreline by Jet miners who had no idea of what was inside one of the many hundreds of rocks they extracted from the local jet mines.
Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to have been taken on a recce of the local coastline with Mike and my son Jay.
As we walked on the shoreline to the south of Whitby at Hawsker bottoms, Mike showed us how he collects his fossils.
We were also fascinated to learn that Mike also mines his jet from the area and the picture below shows the entrance to one of his recent mines.
Mike also enjoys sea angling and we fish together most weeks throughout the year. Whilst angling he is also on the look out for work.
Surveying the coast for recent rockfalls and landslides is all part of the job description. On our recent angling trips Mike has found several Jet seams and even a crocodile jaw in the scar near Staithes.
Mike also makes jet jewellery for sale on his website, along with an assortment of fossils of every shape and description.
Polished canon balls (Iron Pyrite Rocks) containing masses of ammonites are proudly on display at Mikes home on the outskirts of Whitby, along with dinosaur footprints, bones, skulls and teeth.
Having known Mike for some time now, its clear this guy loves his job, what’s more he is extremely knowledgeable about the local coastline, his knowledge isn’t just based around fossils either.
His knowledge about geology is immense, as is his knowledge of all that’s happened on the coast throughout time gone by. Iron stone mining, Alum mining, jet mining, if it happened on the Yorkshire Coast Mike can tell you when, where, how and why.
Yorkshire Coast Fossils Gallery