One of my first dates with my now husband consisted of hopping on the back of a motorcycle for a terrifying ride (not my thing) to a beach to look for shark teeth. Shelling has always been a pastime of mine but I had only found one shark tooth in all my years growing up in Florida. I approached this outing with skepticism and a tinge of excitement.
I learned a few things that day. One, shark teeth seeking is addictive. I was seriously still looking for teeth in the Publix parking lot afterward. Two, shark teeth are easy to find if you’re at the right beach. And three, you have to know what you’re looking for.
To my last point, the secret is looking for the right shape, finish and color. Obviously shark teeth are triangular, but Google Image different kinds of teeth before you go. Bull shark teeth are a traditional shape while sand shark teeth are much more slender and pointed. You’re going to be distracted by lots of chips of shell, rock and tree sediment, so look for a shiny finish too. Teeth aren’t always glossy, but it’s generally a good tip. Lastly the color: black, brown and white. You’ll throw yourself off searching for white teeth, which come from living sharks and are rare. I’ve only found one! Keep your eyes out for the dark fossilized ones instead.
You can walk and find teeth laying on the sand, dig to find them buried or shovel buckets of shell sediment from the surf to inspect. Local Wal-Marts actually sell a metal basket instrument for this purpose, but honestly a bucket works fine! Remember to bring a plastic Ziploc bag or empty water bottle to store your findings.
It’s easiest to develop an eye for this hobby at beaches that are full of teeth. If not, you’ll get frustrated more easily. I’ll help you out and share the best shark teeth destinations we’ve found on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Casperson Beach, Florida
Casperson Beach is located in Venice, the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World.” It’s one of the most publicized beaches for finding teeth and is also one of the area’s most naturally preserved beaches. Large rocks and black sand separate this shore from the typical white sand beaches you find in the area. Start in between the rocks and venture near the tree line in the dry sand if you aren’t finding any. The best time is when the water is calm and the tide is low.
The surrounding park has handicap accessible restrooms, a couple nice picnic areas, a playground and plenty of free parking. Down the road you’ll find the local fishing pier and Sharky’s On The Pier, a charming seafood restaurant that fits the theme of your visit!
Englewood Beach/Chadwick Park
I’m sad to say we just discovered Englewood Beach! South of Venice, this well-kept beach offers the easiest tooth finding I’ve experienced. I found 10 where I sat down my beach bag and went home with more than 200. The beach is littered with them, and I’ve never had so much success digging for teeth.
North of Venice, Nokomis Beach offers a pleasant setting. We’ve had moderate success here. It’s definitely worth a try if you’re in the area!
Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge
Egmont Key is a little island near Anna Maria Island and St. Petersburg that isn’t accessible by road. We’ve taken jet skis from Anna Maria, which was a fun trip in itself, but you can pay to take a ferry. Untouched beach, a retired military fort and a lighthouse give it its character.
Egmont has prize shark teeth. My husband Ben has found halves of large prehistoric Megalodon teeth. Even though they aren’t whole, they have a cool factor. We’ve both found Mako teeth, which are about the size of a quarter. You’ll find the occasional smaller tooth as well.
You have to change your mindset on Egmont to look for large teeth. You won’t find as many, but the ones you do find will be keepers!