Megalodon shark tooth, Venice, Florida
Megalodon shark tooth, Venice, Florida (Photo: Authentic Florida)
Papa's Venice Pier, Venice, Florida
Papa's Venice Pier, Venice, Florida (Photo: Authentic Florida)
Venice beach, Florida
Venice Beach, Florida (Photo: Authentic Florida)
Shark teeth in hand, Venice, Florida
(Photo: Authentic Florida)

A Guide to Venice's "Shark Tooth Capital of the World"

Hunting for fossilized shark teeth is a treasured Sarasota County pastime, and the best place to find them is along the coastline of Venice, Florida.

It's a picture-perfect morning on Southwest Florida's Venice beach, as the cloudless royal blue sky meets the far-off horizon. The emerald-green Gulf of Mexico gently laps onto the sandy shoreline, and a few barefooted beachcombers are off in the distance, searching for the discarded teeth of the ocean’s infamous hunters. As the "Shark Tooth Capital of the World," nature lovers and marine biology enthusiasts alike come from near and far to see if they can get their hands on the elusive fossilized teeth of Gulf Coast's many shark species. Luckily, there are plenty of teeth to go around, as well as many sharky activities for the whole family to bite into!

Where to Find Shark Teeth

The Gulf beaches in and around Venice, Florida, hold a bountiful cache of fossilized shark teeth. Shark teeth collectors say the best places to look for the fossils are any beach accesses at or around the Venice Jetty – including Caspersen BeachCasey Key and Manasota Key.

Venice Fishing Pier - Photo credit: Liz Sandburg
Venice Fishing Pier - Photo credit: Liz Sandburg

The Venice Fishing Pier at Brohard Park is right in the heart of shark's tooth country and an ideal place to begin your journey, especially if you are new to the area. Before you start searching the sands, take a walk out on the scenic 740-foot pier and stop at Papa's Bait Shop. There you can rent or buy the “Venice Snow Shovel," the screened basket fitted onto a handle to help you dig shark teeth. And after a day of fossil hunting, you might want to celebrate your bounty at  Fins at Sharky's restaurant with a spectacular Gulf view where you can enjoy a well-deserved and delicious fish sandwich with a beverage to toast the sunset.


As you explore area beaches, unlock the Beach Pass in the Visit Sarasota App to earn exclusive prizes!


Venice History & Species Found

Ten million years ago, when Florida was submerged underwater, the area was teeming with sharks. Over time, as the water receded giving way to land, the prehistoric sharks died - their skeletons disintegrated, but their fossilized teeth remained. The Venice coastal area, just south of Sarasota, sits on top of a fossil layer that runs 18-35 feet deep. With storms and waves, the fossils are slowly driven into the shallow waters and then up onto the beach.

There are high chances you will find Sand, Lemon, Mako, Bull, Whitetip and Megalodons – just to name a few of the common species found in the sands of Venice and Caspersen beaches. 

Find Sharks' Teeth by Beach or Boat

Shark's Teeth
Sifting for shark teeth, Venice, Florida (Photo: Authentic Florida)

By Beach: Most people who look for shark teeth simply stroll along the beach scanning the sand for the shiny black teeth. Others, seeking faster results, walk to the water's edge where the waves break and there is a foot-high drop-off ledge. They reach down to the edge of the drop-off or even wade out a few feet into the water to scoop up sand and shells. Some use a shovel, a kitchen strainer or just scoop the sand and shells with their hands. Once scooped, they bring it back to the beach and pour it onto the sand. Then they sit on the beach and sift through, looking for their prizes. Other fossil parts, bits of coral, interesting shells or small pebbles may catch the eye, but it is likely that at least one or more teeth will be found in most large scoops. 

By Boat: Most shark teeth are from 1/8" to 3/4" or even a bit larger. However, the really large shark teeth are usually farther out offshore and may require dive equipment to locate. Local Venice dive boats and guides will take you out as they cruise a few miles from the shore. In fact, several boat captains charter trips along the Venice coastline in search of prehistoric fossils and shark teeth. Call any local Venice dive shop and they will recommend captains/guides specializing in fossils to get you suited up and diving for the big boys!

Items You Will Need: 

  • Hat and sunscreen for protection.
  • Small mesh baggie or container for your finds.
  • For onshore hunting: a sand flea rake/scooper or Venice “snow" shovel basket, which you can buy at the pier or Ace Hardware (optional). A regular kitchen sifter will also do!
  • For offshore hunting, scuba or free diving equipment (optional).

Get a Guidebook After Hunting

Sharks' Teeth Finds (Photo: Authentic Florida) 

Before you know it, you'll have a collection of shark teeth and begin wondering why they are so different in shape, color and size. Some are pointier or fatter, or even sharper at the ends. Some are pearly white while others will be more of a gray-black color. With a handy guidebook found at local bookstores, it will provide pictures that assist you with teeth identification of the individual known shark species. 

Shark Tooth Facts

  • Sharks produce 20,000-25,000 teeth over their lifetime.
  • Shark teeth don’t have roots, so they fall out easily while the shark is eating.
  • Sharks typically lose at least one tooth per week.
  • Shark teeth are arranged in conveyor belt rows and can be replaced within a day.
  • Most sharks have five rows of teeth; the bull shark has fifty rows of teeth.
  • Baby sharks (pups) are born with a complete set of teeth.
  • Shark teeth sizes can range from 1/8" – 3.5"or more.
  • 1" of the mighty Megladon's tooth represents 10 feet of the actual length of the prehistoric shark.

More Sharky Attractions

Sharks at Mote Aquarium
Shark Habitat at Mote Aquarium

Can't get enough of sharks? Once you’ve found your fill of fossilized teeth, head to Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium to see them live and in action during your visit to Sarasota County!  At the aquarium’s Shark Zone exhibit, Bonnethead, Sandbar, Nurse, and Blacknose sharks swim around the 135,000-gallon Shark Habitat.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 11 am, visitors can watch special narrated shark training sessions (free with regular admission) to learn how Mote cares for its sharks and the training methods used to keep them healthy.

Start Planning Your Trip

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Venice Listings

Displaying 1 - 10 of 29 listings
Chauncy Howard Park
601 The ESplanade N
Venice, FL 34285
If you are staying near Venice Beach, consider walking to the shoreline through the adjacent Chauncy Howard Park for a more quiet,...
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4100 Harbor Drive
Venice, FL 34285
Caspersen is one of the most enjoyable shelling beaches in the area and an exceptionally good place to find prehistoric sharks' teeth...
2728_640x480.jpg - Hecksher Park. Photo courtesy of Scgov.net
450 W. Venice Ave
Venice, FL 34285

Hecksher Park is owned by the City of Venice and operated and maintained by Sarasota County through an interlocal agreement that has...

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Lyons Bay
Venice, FL 34275
Rattlesnake Island is a popular picnic destination for area boaters. Trails follow the shoreline, and explorers will see a variety of plants,...
Venice Beach
Venice Ave and The Esplanade
Venice, FL 34285

Venice Beach is a great place to find seashells, enjoy the warm gulf waters or if you're a diver check out the...

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West end of Tarpon Center Drive
Venice, FL 34285
Humphris Park is the entrance to the south jetty. It is named for Thomas H. Humphris, who was mayor of Venice from...

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