Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

ONCE BITTEN ... They're Caught Up in the Hunt for Caspersen's Cache of Shark Teeth

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

ONCE BITTEN ... They're Caught Up in the Hunt for Caspersen's Cache of Shark Teeth

Article excerpt

(SERIES: BEACHES)

VENICE

Cindy Robbins packs a stack of colanders for a family trip to Caspersen Beach.

"Five," she says, "because there are five of us."

On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, Robbins and her husband and children use the kitchen strainers to sift through surf and sand for fossilized shark teeth. They find only tiny specimens, but they keep up their hopeful search for The Big One -- a megalodon fossil as big as your hand.

"I like looking for shells, anyway," says the Louisville tourist. "It's relaxing."

Just then, a wave washes Robbins right out of her beach chair.

She laughs. Her family laughs. The woman next to her laughs.

"Oh, my gosh," says Michele Muratori, a sifter from Indiana. "Are you OK?"

Her family has brought some colanders, too, and a metal screen with a long handle.

For years, they've been visiting Florida. For years, they've heard about shark teeth on the Gulf Coast.

"I guess because we have boys," Muratori says. "When you ask them what souvenirs they want from Florida, they say shark teeth."

She struggles to keep her balance even as her children rush in and out of the water. Every time someone finds a sliver of black stone, the kids start shouting.

"Shark tooth! You found one? I think it is!"

Muratori smiles as she surveys the scene. None of the kids are hunched over iPads or iPhones. Even a toothless day can be a good day at Caspersen Beach.

"We're having a blast," she says. "We haven't found any mumbo- jumbos yet, but we'll give it a few more hours."

Searching psychology

Venice beaches have long been known for their shark tooth fossils.

They've been featured on Travel and Discovery Channel programs.

When tourists search online, they find results like "Finding shark teeth = addicting! -- TripAdvisor."

Florida beachcombing meets marine archaeology. Ancient "Jaws." A little science in the sun.

Locals agree that Venice beach renourishment has made teeth harder to find, but that doesn't stop people from looking.

It may even help.

There's some psychology at work when it comes to finding lots of tiny teeth and hoping for bigger ones. …

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