On any given day on the beaches of Manasota Key, people of all ages can be observed crouching or bending at the waist with heads down, peering into the sand in search of shark teeth. You may have heard that Venice is the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World,” but did you know that thousands of shark teeth are found each day on Manasota Key’s beaches? What is the source of all of these teeth and how can you find them?
A shark will shed and replace several thousand teeth in its lifetime. These teeth fall into the sediment where they sit for thousands of years. The shark teeth that are found on the shores of Weston’s wannaB inn and other beaches along Manasota Key are actually fossils.
Fossilization occurs over thousands of years. Minerals in the sands replace the elements of the teeth. When you discover a shark tooth… you are holding a fossil that is more than 10,000 years old. These fossilized teeth are black, brown or grey, depending on the minerals that have been absorbed during the fossilization process.
Although many different species of shark teeth can be found, identifying the species of a found tooth can be a bit challenging. Some species are easy to detect. The megalodon is the largest of the teeth and is a rare find. They are more often found by divers off the coast of Manasota Key, but on rare occasions they have been found in the surf.
The best time to find shark teeth is at low tide early in the morning. Look at the ribbon of black sediment that the waves leave behind. Some hunters choose to use a sifter, but no tools are necessary to find these ancient treasures. As you look closely, you will begin to discover black triangles in the sand. Most of your finds may be small, but the fun of hunting for shark teeth is that you never know what you might find.