“Sounds like hunting and fishing combined, but with no gear, nothing to clean and no bag limits,” I replied. “Count me in. Fossilized shark tooth hunting sounds like a winner.”
“Okay, let’s do it,” Pam agreed. We turned south and drove for Venice Beach, an hour drive from Tampa.
Once there we changed and hit the beach. “Let’s make this fun,” she said. “Let’s see who can find the most teeth … loser buys dinner.”
“Sounds good to me!” I shouted over the surf, finding the day’s first tooth – a black and tan shining beauty 1/2-inch across. There are no free lunches but dinner’s free tonight I chuckled to myself. The little sucker was sharp. I wondered how sharp it was on active duty.
We scoured the sand above the surf almost an hour. Teeth were relatively easy to find and others searched the beach doing the same. A boy passed with a handful of teeth. Figuring they’d be cheaper than dinner, I considered bargaining with the kid.
Pam announced half-time so we took a break and figured the score. I had twelve teeth to her eight, led commandingly and had the biggest tooth as well. The kid would probably have ripped me off anyway. “You know,” Pam mentioned, “the biggest are in the water. I once found a 5 1/2-inch tooth diving a couple hundred yards out. Probably some nice ones in close though.”
That was all it took. I donned my snorkeling gear and made for the surf. “What kind of shark loses a 5 1/2-inch tooth?” I asked. “Forty-foot Megalodon, the prehistoric great white,” she answered. “Don’t worry, they’re long extinct!” she yelled. “But they did have plenty of kids!”
Suddenly nervous like a tick on a burning dog, I wanted no part of the water. Heck, I’d seen Jaws – I knew how those killers worked. I looked like a giant seal. Wait a minute, I thought, not with these yellow fins… a giant banana! Sharks probably love bananas. Get a grip man, the odds are one in a billion … the same for the guy who swore he’d never win the lottery.
“Seminoles camped on these beaches,” Pam interjected. “People occasionally find arrowheads here. Maybe you’ll find a 5 1/2-inch arrowhead.” I envisioned a 40-foot Indian drawing a 20-foot bow, skewering a giant Tripp-ka-bob. I prayed he’d miss and hit the shark.
After years of hunting and fishing Mother Nature, I knew she could easily get even and I wasn’t going to press my luck. I regretted having a shark jaw and Redskin peanuts at home. I steered clear of the surf and kept an eye out for tall beachcombers in headdresses.
We searched another hour, found several more nice teeth and called it a day. “Alright,” said Pam, “let’s see who’s got dinner.”
We tallied our find and Pam edged me out with 24 teeth to my 22. “Okay, you win,” I conceded. “That was fun, but I barely escaped Mother Nature and her henchmen. Think I’ll avoid tempting fate a while,” I sighed. “What would you like for dinner?”
“Hmm. Tough choice,” Pam smiled. “You pick: shark steaks or Indian …we’ll eat away from the beach.”
is an avid outdoorsman who survived dinner. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.