Shark Tooth Hunting: How To, What You Need & Best Beaches to Find Them

You are currently viewing Shark Tooth Hunting: How To, What You Need & Best Beaches to Find Them

Another day in Florida and you and the family are wondering what to do. The weather feels perfect for the beach, but is the beach a bit played out? So far this year the family has collected 5 jars of seashells, had 10 sandcastle contests, 15 “beach reads” have been read, numerous ice creams have been consumed (and melted down faces), 3 kites have been broken, and 2 beach umbrellas have been chased down the sand in the wind. Does the beach have any new adventures to offer? That depends, have you ever gone shark tooth hunting?

Read or Watch – Whichever You Prefer!

In this blog post we’ve outlined everything you need to know about shark tooth hunting. However, we’ve also made a video showing you all the basics of shark tooth hunting – including a bit of background, the equipment and showing you how to do it. Just click the video below if you want to watch it!

Prefer to read it? No problem, just keep scrolling past the video to read all the details!

What is Shark Tooth Hunting All About?

What is shark tooth hunting you ask? Perhaps you are visiting Florida or just moved to the area, you might have heard of this and wondered what it’s all about. This is especially true if you moved to Venice, Florida – because it’s everywhere!

Similar to combing the sand for seashells or other lost beach treasure, shark teeth are also washed up along the shores, free for the taking and you won’t even need to use a metal detector! Sharks have been gliding through the salty ocean waters for millions of years. When a shark’s life has come to an end, while most of the body is either fed upon by other sea life or disintegrates back into the ocean waters (circle of life and all that) their teeth remain left behind and after thousands of years, they fossilize.

sifting for shark teeth in venice florida and finding one

Over time, these teeth have been stirred up and moved around in the ocean waves until one day they were discovered cropping up along the shorelines with the seashells, enticing beachcombers to begin hunting for these treasures. In searching for shark teeth you will discover that the teeth won’t be very large. While they will vary in size, the teeth will remain within the same size range meaning what you will be looking for will be a triangle that is roughly 1/8” to 3/4″ – perhaps even a bit larger but nothing too large and imposing.

Shark’s teeth can also be found in varying colors depending on what sort of sediment they fossilized in, but most likely the teeth you find will be darker in color or black and a bit glossy when the light hits them.

Why Go Shark Tooth Hunting?

If you have been to a beach, I am sure you have noticed that scattered along the boardwalks are usually little shops which you have no doubt popped into at some point for the odd bottle of sunscreen or new beach towel. In these shops you will find all sorts of ocean trinkets and crafts and have more than likely come across items such as shark tooth necklaces, maybe you have even purchased one before but what if the tooth you wore around your neck was actually a tooth that you found yourself?

This is just one of the reasons shark tooth hunting has become a popular pastime.

Shark tooth hunting can be a relaxing walk along the sand where the waves are crashing in, or it can be an exciting game that the kids will love! A competition in who can find the most or biggest tooth of them all! Some people simply love seeing what kind of tooth they can find next and can’t wait to identify what shark the tooth is from/how old the tooth could possibly be.

Shark tooth artwork hanging on our wall in our house

While others love to collect the teeth for all of the crafts they can make; artwork to display in their home, jewelry, gifts for family and friends, or maybe creative shark tooth-themed items they can sell.

READ MORE: Free Things to do in Florida

What Are the Best Beaches to Find Shark Teeth?

When it comes to shark tooth hunting, not all beaches are created equal. While you can find shark teeth on the east coast Florida sands of places like Jupiter Beach, Amelia Island and St. Augustine beach, the Florida shores surrounding the Gulf of Mexico are also teeming with excellent places for shark tooth hunting along the shores of Casey Key, and Manasota Key.

But if you are looking for the best of the best in this sport you can’t go wrong with Venice Beach in Venice, FL to be specific, Caspersen Beach area.

What’s so special about Caspersen Beach? Why, it’s only the shark tooth capital of the world!

sign for caspersen beach in venice florida with giant shark tooth on the sign because it's the best place to find shark teeth in the area

You heard that right, Caspersen Beach in Venice, FL is the mecca for all things shark’s tooth. Now this might get you thinking, “why here?” Well the good news is that we know why, but for that story we need to journey back millions of years, over 10 million years to the prehistoric past. Back in the day, Florida as we know it didn’t exist, in fact it was completely submerged underwater.

READ MORE: Things to do in Venice, Florida

Why Are There So Many Shark Teeth in Venice, Florida?

During those days a great variety of sharks hung out in these waters including the now extinct but previously massive megalodon. Over a shark’s liftetime they are known to lose hundreds of teeth, multiply that by the large amount of sharks roaming the waters and what you are left with is an ocean floor filled with discarded teeth prime for fossilization.

After the waters lowered and Florida emerged, the tides have kept churning and through that churning, they dig up these awesome fossils along with other sediment and shells stirring them up until they eventually land up on the shoreline for us to find. The best places to find these beach treasures are going to be near a rocky jetty or inlets – places where you see a lot of shells, corals, rocks or immediately in the line where the waves are crashing onto the shore.

What Equipment Do I Need to Go Shark Tooth Hunting?

Shark’s Tooth Hunting can be great fun for the whole family and the best part is, it won’t cost you a ton to get started. First thing you need is the desire for the hunt, second is a tool for digging, and skimming/sifting the sand and shells luckily this can be something as simple as your hands or a strainer from your kitchen.

Many beachside shops will have tools that you can buy or rent to use during your hunting expedition, items such as the “Venice Snow Shovel”. You can find small sifters that you hold in your hand or even fancy sifters that will float out on the water! Don’t want to buy anything new? Well, if you have kids that like to build sandcastles – just steal their toys for the day.

our shark tooth hunting equipment - hand sifter and floating sifter and jar to collect them
Our shark tooth hunting equipment. A hand scoop sifter (Florida snow shovel) and we made the floating sifter ourselves. Plus, a jar to put the teeth in. Don’t forget hooks to attach them so they don’t float away!

 

If you really want to be creative there are plenty of tutorials to be found online that will help you build your own sifter to make you the shark tooth hunting pro you have always wanted to be. Some people like to use a small spade type shovel to gather the sand, shells and teeth with, while others prefer their hands, and still others prefer a scoop – it doesn’t matter how you do it, with enough determination you are bound to find something great.

Which brings us to one of the most important items of all. When going shark tooth hunting the most important item that you can have with you is, somewhere to put your treasure! This can really be anywhere of your choosing but if the plan is to take your finds home with you, don’t forget to pack something to carry sed finds.

Once you begin to amass your new shark tooth collection, you may be asking yourself what kind you have. You’re in luck there too! Many shops in the area will also carry handy guidebooks to help you identify your finds so you can be well on your way to collecting them all.

Display of Megaladon shark teeth found in Venice, Florida

Shark Tooth Hunting Techniques

Once you have all of your hunting tools together it is time to find the teeth. Lucky for you, you don’t need years of experience to be good at finding shark’s teeth. It can be as simple as strolling along the beach, picking up the occasional handful of sand and sifting through it, but if you really want results there are faster ways.

As mentioned previously, the good places to find these treasures are places where waves crash up and then leave things behind such as shells, rocks, bits of coral and teeth. Once you find a nice spot you can dig in with your shovel, scoop it up into your sifter and then sift through. Chances are you will find a lot of cool interesting bits from the ocean in there and in Venice with a big scoop you are very likely to find at least one tooth in each batch but since they are small you do need to sift carefully, really looking at each piece so that you don’t accidentally discard a tooth that you mistook for a piece of coral.

Another spot to look is where the waves are currently crashing up or just into the water where the sand dips down a bit more abruptly, just reach down into the water to the bottom, and pull up a scoop full of goodness to take back to the beach and sift through. There isn’t a specific time of day that is best for this activity, the biggest factor here is the tide, when it is coming in hard, receding and maybe if there is a storm that has recently come through and really stirred up the ocean to leave even more items onshore than usual.

READ MORE: The BEST Dog Beach is in Venice (and Yes, You Can Find Shark Teeth There!)

Yes…You Can Keep the Shark Teeth You Find! (and you won’t get in trouble)

Many fossil sites in Florida are legally protected, meaning that you are either not allowed to collect them, or only allowed to do so with a permit. Shark’s teeth remain an exception on this point because there are just so many of them to be found in Florida so why not get yourself a free souvenir? Do be mindful, that while these shark’s teeth won’t bite, it is still illegal to dig deep into multiple layers of public land as this can negatively disrupt the eco-system. There will be plenty of teeth to be found up near the top without much effort on your part, so let’s keep things near the surface and continue to allow our natural lands to live their best lives.

search homes for sale in florida banner ad

Shark Tooth Hunting is a Fun Activity that Everyone in the Family Can Enjoy!

The great thing about shark tooth hunting is that it is an activity for all ages! No heavy equipment required, no long term training, and you don’t even have to wake up at 5am to do it. It can be a leisurely activity you take part in while watching the sunset or it can be an all out competition to see who can get the most teeth, the biggest, the most variety, the most interesting, or the best colors.

Seriously, you can even make scorecards, winners get ice cream! Or everyone can celebrate their collection at lunch or dinner at the famous Sharky’s Restaurant in Venice! It can be a solo adventure, or a team effort. Maybe the beach isn’t played out afterall, so go pack that beach bag full of sunscreen, beach towels, hats, umbrellas, books, snacks, and waters, load the boogie boards onto the car and for kicks maybe throw in a shovel, sifter and a “treasure holder” of your choosing. There are plenty of shark’s teeth out there just waiting for you to find them.

Jessica Smith

Jessica is a former Florida resident, turned frequent visitor who is currently based in Brooklyn, NY where she is an Art Director and Prop Artisan for tv, film, and theater. She is a lover of travel, writing, and food (cooking and eating it, especially when a beach view is involved.)

Leave a Reply