A feature that has made Florida so popular with people worldwide is its beaches, and one of the nice things about its beaches is the variety of unique diversions they offer. From the emerald-green waters off the Panhandle to the powdered-sugar sands of Lido, sun seekers can find just the right spot to relax and dig their toes in the sand.
One of the most interesting stretches of Florida’s coast lies in the southwest part of the state, about twenty miles below Sarasota. This area surrounding the small city of Venice can boast of warm sand, beautiful water and spectacular sunsets like many neighboring locales. Yet what makes it different may go unnoticed to the untrained eye, even though it’s right under your feet – and fins. Below the sand and water lie untold numbers of fossilized shark’s teeth that have been deposited over millions of years.
While every bit of ocean and shore has the potential to feature some relics, the beaches and seafloor around Venice are teeming with large amounts. It is theorized that thousands of years ago, when much of the state lie underwater, wave activity in the area was minimal. The relatively calm conditions resulted in teeth remaining where they were shed (and where sharks died). Eventually the waters of the Gulf receded, but the teeth stayed and now become exposed due to storm activity and land erosion.
Although it is possible to sift through the sand on shore and find plenty of teeth, larger ones are more common on the seabed. Many of the good hunting grounds are several hundred yards out at depths of 15 to 20 feet, so you can easily set out from land (although a diver propulsion vehicle may be handy in this situation). Several local dive companies feature charters geared specifically toward teeth collecting. Some of the best spots are located north of Venice Pier, where teeth measuring six inches have been found. And a quarter mile off of Caspersen Beach lies an ancient riverbed known as the “bone pit” that really lives up to its name.
When scanning the bottom, watch for dark patches of “black sand” – these are areas filled with fossilized material. An outing can yield teeth of various species, ranging from lemon sharks to megalodons, the great grandparents of great whites. One can also find bones from ancient terrestrial animals such as horses, camels and giant sloths. Searching requires no special skill – just sift with your fingers and keep your eyes peeled. You’ll be able to fill your collection bag with history in no time!