Sunday, April 5, 2009

Enjoying Florida: Manasota Beach

You know you've been infected with nerdiness when you're on vacation and you decide that, rather than sleeping in and relaxing like a normal person, you're going to get up at 5 am to hit Manasota Beach at low tide.

For the record, it's DARK at 5am. There isn't a hint of light yet. And since my car is in the shop *long string of cuss words in the Elantra's general diretion*, we decided to take Barry's motorcycle for the 45 minute trek down to Manasota Beach. The air was beautiful this morning. The night blooming flowers made it thick with perfume. It was a nice ride.

Anyhow, we get to the beach around 6 am and it's still pitch black. We came prepared with 2 flashlights, and set out to hunt the shell piles for shark's teeth.

Now some people might tell you that Venice is the shark's tooth capitol of the world. Those people are selling something or trying to steer you clear of Manasota Beach so they can get all the teeth for themselves. I have never, ever, ever seen so many shark's teeth in one place before. You can literally walk up and down the beach and find teeth just lying on the sand.

Anyhow, we got there early in the hopes of finding some bigger ones than normal - we figured it was low tide, and no one would have come along and got to them before we did. There was one older couple out there even earlier than us. I was amazed. But other than them and the crabs, we had the place to ourselves for about an hour and a half.

Turns out it's harder to find teeth by flashlight than you might think. But, of course, it's fun trying. And it's not like we didn't find any - we'd found quite a few before the first peeks of dawn began to light the sky. It was nice - the weather was perfect, and we just walked up and down the beach, hunting through shells, looking for whatever we could find.

As the light appeared so did more fossil hunters, and a few other beachgoers: the birds. All of a sudden there were tons of shorebirds all over the beach. My personal favorites:

As the day dawned, suddenly we were able to see all the teeth we apparently were too blind to see by flashlight. There they were, just sitting on the sand, mocking us.

At Manasota Beach, no matter how many people there are, there are always teeth just lying around. I looked into it a bit, and if I'm right they're teeth from sharks which swam the seas during the Miocene, somewhere around 15 million years ago. They vary in color depending on the minerals in the sediments they landed in. There were hundreds! And that's not an exaggeration. We walked away with two hundred and seventy two fossilized teeth. See for yourselves:

Not bad for a day's bounty, eh?


Marvin said...

A good day's bounty, I'd say.

mr_bo_jingles said...

Nice pictures :)! I have never seen such fossilized teeth before. Hope the weather is fine in Florida. Have a nice day and enjoy your vacation.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Sounds to me like a perfect morning of vacation.

Allie said...

Manasota is the beach you took me to last time right? Where I loved all the seagrapes lining the beach?

The line up of teeth on the table is cool. You should mount them and frame them as a display for your apartment walls :)

Jennifer said...

Hi! I just recently got hooked on your fantastic blog! Those are some amazing shark teeth! How fun. :) Thanks for having a great blog!

Irradiatus said...

I am so insanely jealous, Christie!!! Especially since it's looking like we can't afford to head your way this summer :(

I'll trade you a few of those teeth for some really great crinoid fossils handpicked by me from the banks of Beaver Lake in the Ozark mountains (on my property). They're about 300 million years old.

I'm serious.