With 14 miles of sunny beaches, vibrant wildlife, a rich history, and lively culture, its no wonder people enjoy visiting Venice, Florida. One of the area’s main attractions may surprise you, however. Venice, Florida just so happens to be the Shark Tooth Capital of the World.
Just about everyone loves beachcombing. The sun, the sand, and you never know what fascinating things you’ll find! Interesting pebbles, seashells, crab claws, multicolored sea glass, flotsam, and more.
Here on the beaches of Venice, chances are good that you’ll also find at least one fossilized, prehistoric shark’s tooth – if not many. That’s because Venice, Florida is the Shark’s Tooth Capital of the World!
You can find shark’s teeth, both prehistoric and modern, on beaches here and there in Florida and the world. Nowhere seems to have quite the concentration that we do here on the beaches of Sarasota County, however.
But why here?
Shark Tooth Capital of the World
Some ten million years ago, Florida was under water and the area teemed with sharks. Makos, great whites, bull sharks, sand sharks, lemon sharks, tiger sharks, and even the gigantic, prehistoric megalodon. Over the eons, as the water receded, the fossil layer they are a part of was revealed.
While the cartilaginous skeletons of sharks disintegrate quickly, their teeth are much tougher and fossilize well. The 18 to 35 foot thick fossil layer on Venice’s coast is full of not just shark teeth but the fossilized bones of many other prehistoric creatures, too. Fossils that are continually dredged up and washed ashore by storm and sea.
Consequently, just about anyone with a sharp eye can easily find at least one, if not more, fossilized shark’s teeth while beachcombing Venice, FL.
How To Find a Shark’s Tooth
Spotting a fossilized shark’s tooth as you walk along the beach takes some practice, even here at the Shark Tooth Capital of the World. Once you know what to look for, though, it isn’t hard at all.
For one thing, the teeth you’re looking for are not new and white but ancient and a dark brown to black color. Most of the shark teeth that you find on the beach will be between 1/8″ to 3/4″ (3.175mm to 20mm) in size.
The other secret to finding fossilized shark’s teeth on the beach with the naked eye is to look for dark specks in the sand. If you see what looks like coffee grounds, you can bet there are fossilized shark teeth hiding there.
Not having any luck? You may want to try a Florida snow shovel out in the surf, where the waves are breaking. A “Florida snow shovel” is basket at the end of a metal pole that you can use to sift sand and smaller particles from shark’s teeth, seashells, and other larger items. Banyan House has Florida snow shovels for our guests to use, along with a variety of other beach gear.
Hoping to score one of the larger specimens, like a palm-sized Megalodon tooth? Those are typically found only in deeper waters and often require dive equipment.
Best Beaches for Finding Shark Teeth
Venice is home to 14 miles of sandy beaches, and all within 5 minutes or less of Banyan House. While you can find fossilized shark’s teeth at all of them, some are definitely better than others.
Rocky Caspersen Beach, for example, is the absolute best beach in Venice, FL for shark teeth. The waves and rocks at this beach conspire to gather the teeth, making them far easier to find than on other beaches. Caspersen Beach is Venice’s southernmost and is also good for scuba diving, which increases the chance of finding one of those big, valuable megalodon teeth.
The beach at Venice Fishing Pier in Brohard Park is another excellent place for fossilized shark’s teeth.
While you can find shark’s teeth in the sand at Venice Beach, it is quite popular and often very crowded. A potentially better choice would be Service Club Park Beach, which is quieter and offers free parking, rest rooms, showers, and a boardwalk.
Fossil Shops and the Venice Shark’s Tooth Festival
Even though you’re practically guaranteed to find at least one fossilized shark tooth on the beach if you look, that’s not the only place you can find them. This is the Shark Tooth Capital of the World, after all!
A variety of fossilized shark’s teeth and other locally sourced fossils can also be found for sale in a number of Venice shops. Everything from raw, rough fossils to polished shark tooth fossil jewelry.
Once you start collecting fossilized shark’s teeth, you may want to learn what kind you’ve got. They come in a variety of not only sizes but also shapes and colors. Handy guidebooks are available at many local shops, and some shopkeepers are also experts.
In fact, Margaret Thomas, who purchased Banyan House in 1960, was a fossil enthusiast and wrote books them. During her ownership of Banyan House, she established a shark’s tooth and fossil museum on the first floor. You can still find copies of her books in the shops along Venice Avenue.
Venice is also home to the annual Venice Shark’s Tooth Festival, held every April at the Venice Airport. The festival is an excellent place to see a wide variety of prehistoric shark’s teeth and other fossils. It’s also a great place to learn about the fossils you’ve collected.
Venice, FL fossil hunters should consider obtaining a Florida fossil-hunting permit. You won’t need it for the shark teeth you find but, as I said earlier, you may also find vertebrate fossils during your hunt. Carrying a valid fossil-hunting permit allows you to preserve these fossils as well.
No matter what your Venice plans entail, Banyan House is here for you. Come relax in the old-world charm of our vacation property with top-tier amenities, tropical gardens, swimming pool, billiards and much more.