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My husband Brandon and I have gone diving at Venice, FL ("shark tooth capital of the world") once before -- just under a year ago, with Captain Steve Thacker and Marie aboard Florida West Scuba School's Hammerhead. We had a great time, found some goodies (including several teeth from the megalodon, a prehistoric shark that may have been the size of a bus), and started counting down until the next time we could go out fossil-hunting.

May twelfth was the big day. We woke up at four-thirty in the morning in order to get ready, get on the road, and get to Florida West Scuba by eight AM, and, despite being groggy, we were excited to get back out in the water again. I had to quit my job at a local aquarium back in December and hadn't been diving since, so I was definitely looking forward to our two dives.

My first dive started out horribly. After about fifteen minutes down, I got the line from my dive flag looped over the anchor line, and, when I came up to free it, I managed to tangle myself up like a manatee in a crab trap line. As I moved to the rear of the boat so Steve and Marie could help me out, I realized that my tank had come loose, and then I dropped my freaking mask. (Fortunately, another diver found it later.) I wanted to curl up and die from embarrassment -- I've been diving since I was eighteen years old, and I was making these awful rookie mistakes in front of the captain and his mate. Flustered beyond belief, I entertained the idea of just calling it quits and hauling my butt back on the boat, but, with a spare mask loaned to me by the lovely Marie, I went back down to try my luck.

And I'm so glad I did.

Within just a few minutes, I pulled this beauty off the sea floor:


It's not intact, there are only a couple of specks of enamel left on it, and the serrations are long gone, but it's HUGE. The base is about four and a half inches across, and Steve estimates that, if the tip wasn't broken off, the tooth would be about seven inches long.

Here's an admittedly cruddy cell phone picture taken in the car on the way home that shows you the tooth in its entirety:


I didn't find much on the second dive -- a couple of smaller megs, a whale vertebrae, and some miscellaneous shark teeth -- but, really, with a find like this one on the first dive, asking for more would just be greedy. =) Brandon, like last time, found the pretty, intact, serrated teeth; if we could only combine our powers to find pretty, intact, serrated, HUGE teeth, we'd be in business!

Here are some better pictures, taken after all the barnacles and other crud were removed:


One view of the tooth.


The opposite side.


From the root to the broken tip, it measures about 5.25" long.


Across the root, it measures around 4.5" wide.


This is the new tooth next to one of last year's. Yow! Quite a difference.

That was one big fish. Ohh, I love sharks.
 

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Wow!  That was a big one.  What a great find.  That had to be exciting.  Worked in an aquarium?  That would be a cool job.  I can sit and watch fish, sharks, etc. forever.
 

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I love Venice, but haven't been there in years.  I never knew that about the sharks teeth there.  I visited for the pelicans. 

That's some tooth.  That would be about half the size of the head of the shark I caught years ago.

What a find.  I know you're thrilled.  Thanks for sharing.

 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, Dona, Kevin, Gertie, and Neversleepawink! :)

And, yeah, I'll probably never find a bigger tooth than that; the largest intact meg teeth on record today are, I believe, 7 1/8" and 7 3/8" long, and mine may have been as long or longer if it wasn't broken. Pretty unreal! It's so neat to hold in your hand something that's at least a million and a half to two million years old -- a tiny piece of one of the largest predators to ever exist on our planet. Makes you feel small in more ways than one!

I've worked at a couple of marine facilities here in Orlando; I've been an educator, a diver, and I've helped to care for and/or train dolphins, manatees, seals, and sea lions. It's cool, but it's a lot of hard work, too! Not to mention, I think my fingers are still all prune-y from spending so much time in the water. ;)

Gertie, you can actually find all sorts of "normal" shark teeth on the beaches of Venice, FL; you don't even have to go diving! My husband and I have found over fifty teeth just sitting in the shallow water and sifting through the shells and sand for anything black -- that likely means it's fossilized, and you can find smaller teeth as well as stingray mouth plates and barb fragments. You used to be able to find meg teeth on the beach, too (and many more of the sand tiger, sandbar/brown, lemon, and tiger shark teeth), but the sand dumped on the shore as part of the beach restoration project has buried a lot of good stuff.
 

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Wow! that is a huge tooth.I can only imagine how big that shark must've been  :eek:
 

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I did find a  1/2 inch shark tooth in a dry river bed in NE Texas many years ago!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Sugar said:
Wow! that is a huge tooth.I can only imagine how big that shark must've been :eek:
No one's certain, since a shark's skeleton is made of cartilage and decomposes after the animal dies, but, comparing the teeth to those of modern-day sharks, scientists figure the meg may have been more than fifty feet long, and that's being conservative; some estimates place them at being longer than sixty feet! Considering how large this tooth is, it was probably one of the bigger megs out there, swimming around and eating whales for breakfast.

Anju No. 469 said:
I did find a 1/2 inch shark tooth in a dry river bed in NE Texas many years ago!
Too cool! Do you happen to know what kind it is? If you know what to look for, you can often identify a shark's species (or get pretty close) just by looking at a tooth!
 

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Didn't get to keep it - I gave it to my cousin who took me shark tooth hunting!
 

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that is WAY cool  ;D
 

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I don't want to test that theory. LOL  :) My oldest daughter won't go into the ocean because she is so afraid there will be a shark. Her family came and visited us last Summer and the 3 boys wanted to see a shark. She was standing on the front of the boat the whole time were snorkeling looking out at the water. I don't know what she thought she could do if she had seen a shark. Poor thing, she said on land after the first day.
 

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jesspark said:
Kathy, I doubt a shark of this size would even notice us! =) Megs liked to prey on whales; a human, in comparison, would be like eating an M&M. A bony little M&M.
All the same, I think I've been plunged back to my post-Jaws childhood fear of bodies of water bigger than a bathtub. :)
 

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Holy cow! That's awesome! I'm not all that into marine biology, but "meg" is fascinating. In the Museum of Natural History in DC, they have a replica of a megaladon jaw hanging next to one wall, with an outline drawn on the wall showing roughly how big the fish would be (and inside it is a large great white shark and its jaw).

All I can say is that I'm glad they're extinct!!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Kathy said:
I don't want to test that theory. LOL :) My oldest daughter won't go into the ocean because she is so afraid there will be a shark. Her family came and visited us last Summer and the 3 boys wanted to see a shark. She was standing on the front of the boat the whole time were snorkeling looking out at the water. I don't know what she thought she could do if she had seen a shark. Poor thing, she said on land after the first day.
MichelleR said:
All the same, I think I've been plunged back to my post-Jaws childhood fear of bodies of water bigger than a bathtub. :)
Aww, that's too bad! :( More people are killed every year by lightning, dogs, deer, and coconuts than by sharks, but, thanks to movies like Jaws (which I love as a movie, but hate for what it did to the reputation of the shark) and Deep Blue Sea, a lot of people are scared of sharks when, honestly, sharks should be the ones afraid of us.

After being in the water with both through the course of my jobs in the marine life field, I'd rather be in the ocean with a wild shark than a wild dolphin, since sharks tend to leave you alone while dolphins like to "play" (where "play" often means "razor-sharp teeth rake" and "five hundred pound body slam") as well as have the potential to be aggressive. I've been close enough to kiss nine foot long sharks, and they couldn't care less about me, while I bear a five-year-old scar on one hand from a young dolphin who just wanted to "play." I love dolphins, but they're extremely powerful and very curious animals -- not necessarily the safest combination!

Although there are sharks that have been known to bite humans unprovoked, I can count the number of aggressive species on both hands, and there are close to four hundred kinds of sharks. As a whole, their bad reputation is unbelievably unfair, and don't even get me started on what the continued killing of sharks is doing to our ecosystem... hooo, boy! Sharks usually kill about ten humans on a yearly basis; humans kill one hundred million sharks. Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, came to regret the part he played in giving the shark its undeserved bad reputation, and once said, "[T]he shark in an updated Jaws could not be the villain; it would have to be written as the victim, for, world-wide, sharks are much more the oppressed than the oppressors." He became a shark advocate and tried to educate the same public that he terrified from the 1970s on.

As you can tell, I love me some sharks. ;D My husband and I hope to go diving with great whites some day -- preferably outside of a cage. I think they're incredibly beautiful.

meljackson said:
WOW! That is very cool!
You have a very nice smile by the way.

Melissa
Shucks, Melissa, thank you! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #20
kreelanwarrior said:
Holy cow! That's awesome! I'm not all that into marine biology, but "meg" is fascinating. In the Museum of Natural History in DC, they have a replica of a megaladon jaw hanging next to one wall, with an outline drawn on the wall showing roughly how big the fish would be (and inside it is a large great white shark and its jaw).

All I can say is that I'm glad they're extinct!!
I vaguely remember a meg jaw reconstruction at the Museum of Natural History in DC; I visited when I was in the third grade, and I loved it. Going back is definitely on my list of things to do! I don't remember the outline, but it'd be cool to see for comparison's sake... I have such a hard time wrapping my brain around the image of a shark whose open jaws would be as tall as my husband with a body as long as a five- or six-story building is high and teeth as big as my hand! It'd be like a great white the size of a whale shark.
 
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