Beachcombing is always a fun activity. Many people love to wander the shores and collect shells, seaglass, driftwood, and other unique objects – like shark teeth. Many different species of shark call the waters around the Florida peninsula home, and their teeth do sometimes wash ashore. So, where is the best place to find shark teeth in Florida?
The beaches near Venice, Florida – and especially Manasota Beach – are the best places to find shark teeth. The reason is ancient geological history and modern hydrological activity combines to bring shark teeth from offshore fossil layers to the pleasant beaches of southwest Florida.
But there is much to learn before you head to Venice and start hunting for teeth. Why are shark teeth relatively common? How is it that there are so many shark teeth out there? Is there anything special you need to do to hunt for shark teeth? In this post, you will learn all of that and more.
Looking for Shark’s Teeth? – Head to the Beaches near Venice
When we think of teeth, we think about our own teeth. Adult humans usually have a set of 32 permanent teeth that stay with us for life. Our teeth are broken down into chomping and biting teeth, such as our incisors, and chewing and grinding teeth, like molars. Sharks take a very different approach to teeth.
Unlike human babies, shark pups are born with a full set of teeth. Sharks also have about a hundred times more teeth than humans: your average shark has somewhere around 3,000 teeth! Because their teeth are integral to their survival, sharks have plentiful backup teeth. If they lose a tooth for some reason, a new tooth migrates and emerges to replace the old one.
Scientists estimate that sharks can go through more than 20,000 teeth in their lifetime. So if they’re having an especially rough day, they might lose up to 100 teeth on an average day. Luckily this loss means that there are plenty of shark teeth floating around in the ocean just waiting to wash up on shore!
Phenomenal Florida Fun Fact: Florida recently played host to one of the biggest Great Whites on record. In late 2020, the Great White known as Unama’ki – is about 15 feet long and tips the scales at 2,000 pounds – passed through Florida’s waters on her way into the Gulf of Mexico.
Of course, many shark teeth in Florida are actually fossilized and not new or fresh. Thousands of years ago, the land that is now Florida was submerged under the ocean. The waters over Florida were full of sharks, who found the area much to their liking. As sharks met the end of their lifespan and died, their bodies drifted down to the seabed, where their teeth became part of the fossil record.
This geological history helps us narrow down the best places in Florida to find shark teeth. As it turns out, the fossil layer off the shores of Venice, Florida, is one of the best places in the world to find shark teeth. Storms, waves, and other natural actions gradually disturb the sediment layers offshore, stirring up loose debris such as shark’s teeth. This debris is then washed ashore and discovered by beachcombers.
Can You Keep Shark’s Teeth in Florida?
In Florida, most fossils and fossil sites are protected by law. So if you were digging somewhere and stumbled across a dinosaur skeleton or another fossil or artifact, you’re generally supposed to report these finds to the proper authorities and leave them be.
Shark teeth are considered exempt from this rule because there are so many of them. Beachgoers and outdoorsy people in Florida are likely to stumble across shark teeth from time to time and are allowed to keep them. Feel free to bring your shark teeth home as a unique souvenir!
Other Posts of Interest
- Can You Find Sea Glass In Florida?
- Do Manatees Live In Florida? (And The Best Places To See Them)
- What Is The Longest Bridge In The Florida Keys?
- Do Rockets Still Launch From Cape Canaveral?
What Equipment Do I Need to Find Shark’s Teeth?
Digging for shark’s teeth is an easy activity that doesn’t require any special equipment. While plenty of businesses sell specific kinds of scoops, filters, shakers, and bags to help you hunt for shark teeth, you don’t really need to spend the money on them.
The key is to dig in the sand at the beach, drain the water and loose sand, and look for the distinctive pointy shape and dark color of the shark tooth. You can even just use your hands to scoop up handfuls of sand and let the sediment filter through your fingers.
That said, if you are planning to take an excursion only to look for shark teeth, you might want some kind of strainer or filter to maximize your ability to filter out large objects from the beach sand. For example, you could use a mesh strainer from your kitchen, some cheesecloth, or any similar thing to filter the sand and look for teeth.
When is the Best Time to Find Shark Teeth?
Most any day is a good day to go out shark tooth hunting in Florida. But is there a particular season or time of year that’s better for shark tooth hunting? Remember, shark teeth exist in the undersea sediment layer and are often stirred up by vigorous oceanic activity. So one of the best times to go to the beach and look for shark’s teeth is after a good Florida storm.
Of course, it is important to emphasize going to the beach after a good Florida storm. Between lighting, heavy wave activity, strong winds, and heavy rains, the beach can be a dangerous place during a Florida thunderstorm. However, storms in Florida are often short-lived and pass within an hour or so. After a nice heavy storm can be an excellent time to find shark teeth.
During hurricane season, tropical storms and hurricanes provide some excellent churning activity in the ocean. After the passage of heavy weather that stirs up waves is always a good time to look for teeth.
Why are Shark’s Teeth Black When Found?
When we think of sharks, we often think of big, white, toothy fish lurking in the deep. So why is it that shark teeth are commonly black in color? The answer is to do with the process of fossilization.
When sharks lose teeth, they float through the ocean and descend into the mire and sediment. In the sediment, oxygen levels are low, pressure is high, and conditions are right for teeth to start to fossilize. As the teeth fossilize, minerals begin crystallizing in their pores. The minerals present in the sediment determine the color of the fossil. For example, shark teeth off Florida are submerged in sediment containing many phosphates, which turn the teeth black.
Interestingly, shark teeth can turn almost any color depending on the sediments they’re buried in. Specifics of the location the teeth are in will affect the fossilization process. Shark teeth that end up in iron-rich deposits can produce ruddy brown or even red shark teeth. Other minerals can turn them green, yellow, or even grey in color.
Can You Find Megalodon Teeth in Florida?
Megalodon was a shark species that lived thousands of years ago. These monstrous animals are thought to have reached lengths of anywhere from 40 to 60 feet. For perspective, the average Great White shark is somewhere around 15-20 feet long.
Megalodon’s jaws could span almost six feet across, with teeth reaching up to 7 inches in length. Luckily for us, Megalodon is no more; I don’t know about you, but I might be a little more reluctant to head to the beach if this enormous predator was still lurking in the depths.
So can you find teeth from Megalodon in Florida? Yes! However, these monstrous dental appendages don’t tend to float to shore like smaller shark teeth. So instead, one of the best ways to find a Megalodon tooth is to go diving for them, ideally somewhere near Venice and the inlet to the Peace River.
Can You Find Shark Teeth Inland?
Strangely enough, you can find shark teeth inland in Florida. Some people have reported finding them alongside rivers or streams or even digging in certain parts of the state.
In Mulberry, Florida – which is about 30 miles inland – curious people can go to the Mulberry Phosphate Museum, which offers visitors the chance to dig for their own fossils in piles of material extracted from the mines. As a result, visitors often find shark teeth, arrowheads, and other interesting artifacts in the dirt!
Chew On That
When it comes to finding shark teeth, Florida is one of the best places you can look. Floridians and vacationers who seek shark teeth should venture out to the shores near Venice Beach. Whether you wish to wade the shores and scoop sand to find teeth or dive from a boat to scour the seabed yourself, the Venice area is an excellent place to go.
You’re likely to find all kinds of neat stuff on the beach in Florida, but the most important thing you’ll find is that you’re having a great time in the sun and surf. Whether or not you find a shark tooth, the trip to the beach is a reward in itself.