Shark Tooth Hunting
By Tom Morrone, CFP ®, CPA, Principal
What is shark tooth hunting you may ask? Well, it starts with a walk on the beach and not just any beach. The beaches on the west coast of Florida in the towns of Englewood and Venice are famous for shark tooth hunting. Venice, which is just north of Englewood, is actually referred to as the shark tooth capital of the world. Really it is, Google “shark tooth capital of the world”. Anyway, back in 1998 we took our children to Englewood for the first time as one of our annual family getaways. We used our timeshare and traded for a week in Englewood on Manasota Key. The area was all new to us but we were adventurous so we gave it a chance. We went back again the following year because we enjoyed the area so much and all it had to offer. The beaches were beautiful and the water had that tropical look to it. We actually purchased some real estate that trip and had a foothold in paradise. On one of our walks along the shore, someone made us aware how the area was known for shark tooth hunting. They reached into their pocket and pulled out a handful of fossilized shark’s teeth. From that moment forward I was obsessed.
There were so many facets to learn about this newly discovered treasure hunt. The shark’s teeth that we find now are millions of years old and not from the mouth of a shark that is currently swimming in the ocean today. That is part of what fascinates me so much about the hunting process. Most of the teeth are black in color and triangular in shape and the size varies dramatically based on the size and type of shark that the tooth originally came from. The most common size is a little smaller than a dime. When you find one larger you get a little rush of adrenalin and inevitably say something like, “wow, that is a nice one”! Some teeth are very well defined and very sharp and pointy. Others have been smoothed and polished from millions of years of rolling around in the waves and sand. Initially when scanning the beach looking for teeth it is a challenge. After some successful finds of the little treasurers, you tend to get an eye on how to spot them in the shell beds. Also based on the tides and the size of the waves, you can also find them along the shoreline as the waves roll in and out and move the sand and shells around with the momentum of the water. Over the years we as a family have found thousands of the little guys and we are proud of the collection we have amassed. It tends to be a family rivalry each time we go hunting to see who finds the most teeth. A little childish yes but some healthy competition can make it a little more fun and keeps you on your toes. We have also passed the obsession on to friends and relatives that have visited. Each time our repeat guests come to visit they can’t wait to get to the beach to look for teeth.
One day Cathy and I were taking one of our many walks on the beach. And there it was, like a beacon in the night. It was just waiting to be found at the water’s edge. There was a tooth more than two inches long. I was in shock and was like a little kid. I was so proud of it that I had it mounted and framed and display it proudly on the wall. Anyone that visits us gets a little lesson in shark’s teeth and is shown our collection and has to hear the story of the big one that did not get away.
Until the Next Tom’s Take...