All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I didn't spend all my time in Florida at baseball games. I went to the Marie Selby botanical gardens, where I saw an osprey building a nest. I went to Myakka State Park, where I saw alligators and birds like the great blue heron.

But the most fun I had outside the ballpark was hunting fossil shark teeth at Venice Beach. For millions of years, sharks have prowled the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico; now their fossilized teeth wash ashore at Venice Beach.

The first time I went, I didn't find any teeth. I didn't know what to look for. I should have Googled it. I Googled the directions to get there, but not how to find the teeth or what they looked like. (I thought they would be white, like teeth normally are, but the fossilized teeth are mostly darker - shiny black.)

I returned to try again the day before I left Florida. I didn't want to leave without a shark's tooth. I went really early. Partly because there was a game at 1pm I planned to attend, partly because I'd heard that you have to get there early in the day to find good teeth. I'd also heard that it's best to search near the rocky spits that stick out into the water periodically.

The tide was high when I got there, and it wasn't possible to search around the rock jetties without going swimming. It was just after dawn, and too cold for swimming. So I walked along the shore, looking at sea wrack that had washed up over night. As I was doing this, an older gentlemen stopped me, and handed me something. It was a small, black shark's tooth. He said you only find small ones these day, then walked off, leaving me with the tooth.

Maybe that was good luck, or maybe I just needed to see one to know what they looked like, but after that, I started to find teeth. A lot of people bring wire baskets they use to scoop up shells and pebbles from underwater. Others sit on the beach and sift through the detritus washed ashore. But I found my teeth by standing on the beach with the waves washing around my ankles (especially near places where rocks were sticking out of the sand). The waves leave the teeth behind as they retreat, and you have to grab them quickly before the next wave comes in. Look for shiny, black triangular things.

The ones I found were pretty small - so small I think they'd fall right through those baskets people use.

It was a lot of fun, and very addictive. If I weren't leaving the next day, I'd probably have gone back again. I found these teeth in about an hour's time (penny included for size comparison):

I was pretty pleased with my haul, but the locals complained that you don't find many teeth any more, and the ones you do find are small. They said the reason was the beach restoration projects. They've buried the fossils under 20 feet of sand.

I was actually at Caspersen Beach, which supposedly hadn't had any restoration, but people were still complaining that you don't find many teeth any more, and no big ones. Nobody was finding hundreds, that's for sure.

Still, it's a lot of fun, and something I imagine most kids would love. They may not find enough to fill up several baggies, but they'll find a few.


posted by BubbaFan, 11:04 AM


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