• Florida's Adventure Coast

Prehistoric Intrigue

Shark Teeth at South Venice Beach

Ten million years ago when Florida was deeply submerged under water and yet to become a peninsula, there was an abundance of prehistoric sharks swimming in the waters – some with seven rows of teeth and up to 40+ teeth per shark – losing and renewing teeth and eventually depositing them on the ocean floor.  Scientists believe that when the waters slowly receded, the sharks died over time, and their bodies disintegrated – but their teeth remained and fossilized, well protected by calmer waters of the Venice area, now considered the Shark Teeth Capital.

Shark teeth range from 1/8 inch in size to around 3-5+ inches.  It is estimated that sharks could lose 20,000 or more teeth in a lifetime.

Like any treasure hunt – looking for shark’s teeth is quite contagious. When my son was small, we would walk up and down Venice beach and I have yet to lose the thrill in discovering them.  Many say the best time to look are mornings, and some recommend wading into the waters edge to get a sneak peek on incoming shark teeth – before they land on shore. There are various gadgets you can use to help find them, but I love just poking my hands in the sand. Beachcombers will give you advice if needed, just ask.

To make it even more enjoyable, I found a fun way to get to the beach which  makes another perfect day in Florida.  I discovered the South Venice beach ferry – a small neighborhood ferry boat – which takes you across the intracoastal waterway and drops you off on the beach side. Beach swimming is excellent and be sure to pack a lunch with lots to drink.  I also recommend a beach towel and/or chair, the compulsory sunscreen and a hat.  Don’t forget to bring a plastic baggie to stash your new found loot.

To catch the South Venice Beach Ferry, plug in 4800 Lemon Bay Drive, Venice in your GPS – you will travel through a sleepy neighborhood which I found very charming. Once there, park your car in the spacious lot, and the ferry leaves every ½ hour beginning at 9:30 am everyday except Wednesdays. You can purchase a monthly ($35) or annual pass ($95).  The cost might feel steep if you are intending to go once, but I guarantee you will be back.  You can bring up to four people on your pass which is a good deal.

If you don’t want to go on the ferry, I recommend you park at Casperson Beach by following the signs past the Venice Fishing Pier.  Happy hunting!

Fossil Diving with Captain Gil Cross

Recently, my son and husband got their scuba certification.  After our first official dive in the Florida Keys we decided to go on an adventurous Fossil Dive with local Captain & Dive Master, Gil Cross. 

We met in Nokomis on a beautiful Saturday morning, boarded his spacious dive boat and took off motoring south along the Venice coastline.  We eventually parked a few miles off Manasota Key.  Water visibility was excellent and the crew worked diligently to see that everyone got into their wetsuits, donned their equipment and found their way to the fossil treasures 50 feet below the surface.  One of the crew members led the way.

After a few hours of diving, the group came up with bags of fossils – ice age fossils – mammoth teeth, horse teeth, large sharks teeth, mastodon femurs and all kinds of interesting fossils. 

If you scuba dive, this is a unique and fun ways to experience real Florida – of long ago.

Tip of the Day: 1” of shark’s teeth equals 10 feet of shark!

To contact Captain Gil Cross: sundancedivers.com

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