Whether you're looking for your first shark's tooth or want to add to your collection, Florida has an abundance of them within easy reach. The region was underwater several times as the oceans expanded and receded during each ice age. Today, evidence of ancient sharks can be found far inland. Both recent and fossilised shark teeth can be found on Florida's beaches.
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West Coast Beaches
Known as the Shark Tooth Capital of the World, Venice, Florida's beach is a popular destination for fossil and shark tooth hunters. Beach renourishment projects have reduced the frequency of finds, but beachcombers are still well rewarded. SCUBA divers can get a jump start on collecting the teeth before they reach the shore by diving in 15- to 20-foot water just off the beach. Nearby Casperson Beach is also popular with beachcombers and divers alike. Just offshore in 22 feet of water, a series of ledges offer a regular supply of exposed teeth.
Less than an hour south of Venice, Manasota Key is highly recommended. Casey Key, just north of Venice, and Apollo Beach, near Tampa, are also great places to find shark teeth. Divers can find teeth in 15 to 18 feet of water off Casey Key.
East Coast Beaches
Visit Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island -- just north of Jacksonville -- and chances are you'll find fossilised shark teeth. Sand dredged from a nearby river, which just happens to have an abundance of fossils, is dumped on all the island's beaches. Fossil hunters who head out shortly after a large storm are likely to find treasures along the beach. The beaches of St. Augustine, just 90 minutes south of Fernandina Beach, are also hot spots for shark teeth.
Near the West Coast, both Shell Creek and the Peace River contain many shark teeth and fossils and are easily accessible by canoe or boat. In northern Florida, the Aucilla River, Camp Creek, Sandy Creek and the islands at the mouth of the Suwannee River are also good sites. If you don't want to explore the rivers on your own, contact a local fossil club or hire a professional fossil guide.
Fossil Collection Permit
Florida law requires that anyone collecting fossils of vertebrate animals must obtain a permit first. However, this does not apply to shark teeth. If you find something besides a shark tooth, it's best to leave it unless you have a permit. The permit is inexpensive, but you must apply by regular U.S. mail.
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