VENICE, Fla. - Every year, hundreds of thousands of treasure hunters flock to the beaches around the city of Venice in Sarasota County. But it’s not gold they seek. It’s fossilized sharks’ teeth.
In fact, Venice calls itself the ‘Shark Tooth Capital of the World.’
Don Rivette co-owns Earth Treasures in downtown Venice. It’s a souvenir shop that specializes in fossils, rocks and minerals. Don said sharks have shed teeth for millions of years over the whole planet.
"But in most areas of the world the teeth are destroyed from worms and clams, things that want to eat the calcium off the teeth," he explained.
However, the specific conditions in this area of Florida allow the sharks' teeth to be covered up with sand and fossilized.
"Over time, the original organic teeth have become fossilized into stone," shared Rivette.
That makes the teeth more durable and allows people to find them washed up on the beach.
Don’s wife, Draeanne, takes the shark teeth people find and turns them into keepsakes like bracelets and necklaces.
"There are no two alike; they are all different," she explained.
Don says the largest collection he has seen from a vacationing family was a haul of 68,000 teeth.
"They brought in five jars full of teeth in order to prove it to me," he recalled.
Earth Treasures is located at 207 West Miami Ave in Venice.