Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Snorkeling to Walks on the Beach in finding sharks teeth in Venice, Fl.

Collecting prehistoric shark’s teeth has been a favorite pastime of visitors and residents of the Venice area for years. They may be black, brown, or gray, depending on the minerals in the soil in which they have been buried. They range in size from one eighth inch to three inches, and on rare occasions more

Sharks of all species continually shed their teeth and grow new ones. They have 40 or more teeth in each jaw. Behind the functional rows or teeth are seven other rows of teeth developing into mature dentures to replace teeth as they are shed or lost. In ten years, an average Tiger shark can produce as many as 24,000 teeth.

For millions of years, sharks have lived, as seen by the catches from the city-fishing pier and died in the Gulf of Mexico of our Venice beaches, remembered by the teeth left behind. Dead sharks sink to the ocean floor where they are covered by layers of sand and silt. Over time, the cartilage of their bodies disintegrates. Water and storm action eventually sweeps the sand away, exposing the teeth. Some are washed up on shore with the changing tides and waves. The Casperson’s and Venice beach areas are littered with remains of previous snowbirds from the skeletal remains of fierce saber cats, gentle sea cows, massive mammoths and mastodons, Volkswagen-size armadillos, and the ancient five-ton giant ground sloth, now found in pieces all a shoreline, mixed with sharks teeth to become relics of our past to take home to remember.

Historical Finds On the Beach of Venice Florida

The furthest north is the Jetties to the Venice Public Beach. Parking is all close, and you can usually find a parking spot any time of the year. Head out past the swim buoys.

South of the public beach, is the
Alhambra Bone Site. It is immediately to the North of the northern most condominiums, where Alhambra Street dead-ends, hence the name of this dive site. Just park as close to the dead end as you can, but make sure you do not restrict the driveways on the south (into the condominiums). Walk straight out, past some large white drainage pipes. Looking back at shore, the best chance of finding teeth are between the south side of the northern most condo building (to the south) and three very tall pine trees close together to the north (they'll be obvious). Go out past the sandbar. If you continue out to about half a mile, you will find yourself on the Venice Beach Reef, a manmade pile of roadwork’s and sewage pipes dumped years ago.

South of Alhambra street is the
Venice Fishing Pier, and there is diving to the north and south of it. You can either park in the parking lot for Sharky's or in another parking lot just to the North next to a Coast Guard substation. Just head West out past the second sandbar. Stay clear of the pier unless you are into being hooked up. It is also a state law which is seldom enforced but when it is, the fines are stiff with your gear all confiscated and the end to a could have been great day.

There are a couple of showers here, restrooms and shaded pavilion with water and, of course, Sharky’s is itself a great place to eat;
Sharky’s on the Pier.

Just south of the pier is another place to dive. There are a couple places to park, one parking lot at the dog park. This is where Mastodon leg bone to tusks has been found fossilized onto old coral beds just off the beach in an area called “
The Springs.” This is where I found my saber tooth, out not more than twenty feet from the waters edge.

Casperson Beach is the most southern of the beaches. It has three parking lots, but you will want to get there early, as the good spots are taken quickly, and it can be a long sandy trek to the water. Head west and drop past the sandbar, just past the rock cropping or jetties are a sure find in some larger pieces.

The Bone Yard of Golden Beach is another site, but is out just far enough, like the Venice Beach Reef to its right, that it is best not as a shore dive but with a scooter or off your boat. I do not have any coordinates, but you will want to anchor due west of a pair of large, white drainage pipes. There are two sets, actually, one on each side of the northern most condominiums south of the Venice Inlet. You want to anchor off the Southern pipes in around 25' of water, lining up in a triangular position to the pine trees, water tank and pipes.

The beds start in around 13’ of water, and continue out as far as you can go on a shore dive. I spend most of my time between 13’ and 18’. After the sandbar, drop and head west. The bottom will either be sand or small rubble, and at the southern spots, small ledges and rock outcroppings along with the Gulf’s version of a reef. Because of the City of Venice “renourishment” projects that increased foreign sands to cover our unique black sands it created another beach to wash away through erosion and wasteful dollars all while covering up the cities motto Venice, Sharks tooth Capital of the World.” Only now those teeth are but a few feet down and diving is best in finding the big ones like use to be found daily before the new beach was introduced to the snowbirds while destroying our underwater ecosystem.

At the northern sites, there is not much structure at all; again buried under our new beach construction. When you do come across rocks or other features, pay attention to the seaward side, otherwise, look for little gullies that run north and south. The bottom of these hold a lot of teeth, mainly Sand Tiger, Bull, and Lemons, with the occasional Tiger, Snaggletooth, Great White and Melodeon. Megs are also more common at the bone yard, and they have found at least 6 1/2”out there.

You can either dig to find the teeth or just scan the bottom, looking for black patches After you find a couple, you will tend to see more as you more aware of what you are looking for. Digging can be done by fanning my hand over the sand, blowing the sand in the direction of the current.

For strolling the beach in search of history, at the waters edge, there is usually a ledge (around 1’ deep, sloping to the sandy bottom of backwash). In spots, this has large shell deposits, other times it is made of sand. If you scoop into the shells and look, you will find sharks teeth here. You can find a dozen or so if you look for an hour. This to be the best spot in the whole of Florida in finding beach snook, if you are into fishing and shelling.

A fine mesh bag and a Dive Flag. You may want to bring something to dig with (a beach scoop if not diving), but I would not bother if diving for a waving of your hand is enough.

You need to have a flag to dive here, there have been tickets issued to people who were not carrying one. Otherwise, the boaters would not have any navigational buoys. Seriously, be aware on your ascents. Pops to a prop can be a deadly experience, not to mention the bump to the head!

How do you know the conditions are good? You do not. Not even if you were there last week. Visibility is hit or miss, mostly hit in the summer, mostly miss in the winter. There needs to be a couple of nice days with either no wind or wind out of the east for a clean clear dive. Water temperature varies from the mid 40’s to the mid 90’s.

Seahorses and pipefish, schools of sheepshead, pinfish, Blue and stone crabs, flounder, starfish, ornamentals to bait fishes, mackerels, reds, blues and to many to mention swimming above the sand dollars below. If the sand dollar is any color other than white, it is alive, so leave it be, removing only the whitish ones. Sharks are abundant off Venice, which is evident from the teeth in your bag but live ones are out too. Though some fourteen varieties of shark are caught from the Venice City Pier, never, knock on wood, has their been a shark attack and man eaters are caught by The Island Anglers of Venice all the time from Bulls to Tiger Sharks. I have never seen a shark while snorkeling off the Venice shoreline but beware of the Mantis Shrimp, for they do live within and on the rocky outcroppings along the bottom. Commercial anglers label them as thumb splitters when inadvertently picking one up. On one finger of their claws lies folded with a groove in much, the same was as the blade of a pocketknife does in its handle. During a strike at prey, this unfolding motion can occur in less than 1/125th of a second, or eight milliseconds, with the force of a small caliber bullet. It is one of the fastest animal movements known.


Shelling; an Exercise in Green

Exercising in Green

Lunging or exercising in green is achieved through our Inshore Florida Green EcoShelling Tour, while walking the beach line from Casperson’s Beach to the Venice City Pier at Sharky’s. Walking is a cheap and simple way to burn calories and can be done anywhere, as we do out on Casperson’s Beach. With the addition of walking lunges to your walks, reaching out in casting to scooping a shelling shovel, stretches the muscles in ones lower body and increases blood flow to flexibility in the hip flexors. Lunges also strengthen your quads and abs in the process. We begin with a warm up in a medium walk along the beaches edge as we search for washed up teeth and bone for about ten minutes. With your beach scoop in both hands, much like one would hold a baseball bat; reach forward in a digging motion at the lap of the shore while standing with your feet together. As you inhale, take a huge step forward with your right foot. Exhale, and bend your right knee and lower your left knee into a lunge position with your left heel lifted. You can lower your left knee as far down as you want until you feel a good stretch in the front of your left hip. Then inhale as you step your left foot forward to meet your right foot, while pulling the scoop towards you. Exhale as you pull the scoop up and dump the contents onto the sand beside you. Now inhale, and step forward with your left foot. Exhale, bend the left knee and lower your right knee into a lunge. Inhale, and step your right foot forward to meet your left. Then exhale to prepare for the next lunge. Repeat on both sides 10 to 20 times, filling the scoop and dumping. Rest time is now playtime as you sift with your fingers through your pile in search of prehistorically shark’s teeth to bones and shell. Then when your pile is flattened out, it is back to regular walking for another 10 minutes. Repeating the walking lunges to scoops a second time, and then walk for another 10 minutes with a additional scoop to end this eco-friendly hike down the beach in helping you to a healthy fit body and finding some sharks teeth too. $25.00 per person, loaner scoops available along with water and guided tour of beach area. Contact us for more details or our exclusive EcoAngling or EcoSurf Tours…

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Pristine white sand beaches on their gulf sides and dense mangrove forests to the east display surprisingly diverse ecosystems along with North America’s best shelling, great biking/hiking trails, and acre upon acre of wildlife sanctuary. In fact, Casperson’s Beach is so eco-minded that laws prevent buildings or constructed along its shoreline ever from happening! Nearly 400 species of multi-colored seashells found in the region range from the common scallop to the rare brown speckled junonia along with pre-historic horse, mastodon and a variety of sharks teeth. Seashells are often hidden just beneath the surface of sand where the surf breaks, and can be collected by wading, scooping or snorkeling along the surf line. The gradual slope of the gulf acts like a ramp to encourage shells to roll onto the beach – especially when driven in by northwestern storm fronts. Such storms are common in December and January when cold fronts pass through. While there is never a bad time to shell, optimum collecting occurs in early morning, low tide, and after storms. Escape to an oasis of luxury and tranquility... wide, uncrowned beaches decorated with beautiful seashells and sharks teeth... serene natural surroundings... panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico... magnificent sunsets... all yours to enjoy on a Casperson’s Beach walk. We talk the talk while you walk the walk, from the Indian mound park out to along the beach line of Casperson’s Beach, rated as one of the worlds most unspoiled beaches; National Geographic. Offering gliding pelicans to diving dolphins and ending with a cool breeze as you sip on a snack from the infamous “Sharky’s on the Pier.” Shelling bags & Scoops Provided. Morning or afternoon Eco Tourism Tour by Eco-Green-Tours…