Visit This Stunning Florida Beach For A Chance To Discover Historic Fossils

If your favorite movie is "Jaws" or you're wowed by ancient shark exhibits at museums, Florida's Gulf Coast is home to a special, one-of-a-kind experience for the shark-obsessed — one that does not require you to dive into the open ocean with these apex predators. Caspersen Beach is a coastal destination that offers beachgoers a chance to discover fossilized shark teeth. 

Known as the "Shark Tooth Capital of the World," Caspersen Beach is considered one of the best shelling beaches in Florida. In fact, the beach is so famous for its fossil hunting that there is an annual Sharks Tooth Festival held in the city of Venice. If you're wondering why there are so many fossils here, a little tidbit of natural history can explain: Florida was submerged under the sea around ten million years ago, and what's now Caspersen Beach was once an oceanic oasis for prehistoric sharks. This beach sits on top of a fossil layer, so whenever there is a large storm or volatile waves, the teeth of these extinct apex predators are washed ashore.

Since the southern two-thirds of the Caspersen beachfront has been left untouched and mostly in its natural state, you don't have to be a paleontologist to find prehistoric treasures — there is no shortage of fossils waiting to be found on the secluded shoreline. Before you visit the famous Shark Tooth Capital of the World, there are some things you should keep in mind during your fun search for prehistoric fossils.

How to find prehistoric shark teeth

First things first: It's important to equip yourself with the correct tools to explore the sandy coastlines of Caspersen Beach. While you can simply use your hands, buying or renting a sifter from a local business, like Papa's Bait Shop, can make your search much less challenging; a shovel or kitchen strainer are cost-effective alternatives. As you comb through the sand, you'll want to closely scan your sifting tool. Prehistoric shark teeth are typically between 1/8 to 3/4 inches. However, their black and shiny appearance makes them stand out against brighter shells and pebbles. Commonly uncovered teeth often belong to sandbar sharks, lemon sharks, makos, bull sharks, whitetips, and megalodon sharks.

While a keen eye and a bit of patience can help you find a prehistoric prize during your trip, walking closer to the edge of the water will give you a better chance of discovering one. Further, the absolute best times to look for teeth are at low tide, and following a storm. Not only are ancient shark teeth found on the beach, but there are tons of unique shells and bits of fossilized coral. If you're on the hunt for an even larger tooth, there are local Venice dive boats and guides that can take you a few miles off-shore. Before you plan to take home any fossil finds, like old shells, be sure to check there are no living marine creatures inside them. 

Other outdoor activities at Caspersen Beach

Caspersen Beach may be known for fossil hunting and shelling, but there is no shortage of outdoor adventures for ocean enthusiasts. Though some sections of Caspersen Beach's shoreline are rockier, the comfortable water temperature and generally calm Gulf waters are great for swimming and watersports. If you want to hit the waters, Ride and Paddle offers daily kayak and paddleboard rentals for under $50 per person a day. You can also rent a jet ski through JA Powersports Rentals for anywhere from two to eight hours. Be sure to check if there are any public health advisories for Caspersen Beach — such as red tide warnings — that could impact your trip.

If you're a landlubber, you can meander down the beach's boardwalks that preserve the dunes lying below, and enjoy views of the Gulf. Sea turtle nesting season runs from May through October, so you may see hatchlings near the beach's turtle nesting sites during those months. With miles of protected wild beach, Caspersen Beach offers unrivaled wildlife viewing, and birding opportunities. The park's various nature trails weave through freshwater and saltwater marshes, mangroves, tidal flats, and a coastal hammock. A 30-minute walk north from the beach will lead you to the Venice Fishing Pier, which is a prime spot for dolphin watching and photographing Florida's famous sunset. Caspersen Beach is a budget-friendly destination that's ideal for both solo travelers and families seeking an outdoorsy escape to the Sunshine State — with a sharky twist.