Brittanie Hervas is a beachcomber from Venice, Florida. Britannie’s beach treasure of choice isn’t sea glass or shells—she collects mostly shark teeth and fossils. She uses a sifter, wading in waist high water and scooping in the sand to find teeth. Venice, Florida, is known as the shark tooth capital of the world, and many enthusiasts plan trips to Florida entirely around the shark teeth.
Brittanie started collecting with her mother when she was young, visiting Florida on vacations. They would collect shells and make shell mirrors out of them. Once they discovered their first shark tooth, they just wanted to find more and have been hooked ever since. Now, Brittanie tries to go beachcombing every morning. She prefers the cooler winter but will beachcomb year round. Brittainie says she’s hooked both family and friends into being addicted to shark tooth hunting, and some of them are jealous of her collection.
Unfortunately, because there are now so many enthusiasts, it is getting more and more difficult to find teeth in Venice. Brittanie says some locals remember in the 1960s when teeth were scattered everywhere, even on the surface of the beaches.
Brittanie says that there are certain species and colors/sizes of shark teeth that are more sought out than others. The most prized tooth is the megalodon tooth, which can be up to seven inches long, but a more realistic goal is to find anything over three inches.
Brittanie’s most treasured find is a fossilized great white shark tooth. In her time as a beachcomber, she’s collected thousands of shark teeth, and has jars, vases, and cabinets full of them. Her bucket list finds are a large megalodon tooth, a cow shark tooth, a large mako shark tooth, and a snaggletooth tooth.
“I love that they all have a story,” says Brittanie. “Each shark tooth is uniquely from a very specific shark of the past. I love how their tooth memorializes their presence on Earth. These treasures connect us to the distant past!”
If you’re visiting Venice, Brittanie recommends checking out the beautiful downtown area full of shops, with everything from clothing to great olive oil. Venice is close to Siesta Key, one of the most popular sandy beaches in the world. The coast also offers megalodon diving: Captain Michael Nastasio of Black Gold Fossil Charters takes guests out in the Venice gulf for an entire fossil diving experience, and it’s likely the best way to get the biggest megalodon teeth. For restaurants, Brittanie recommends Sharky’s on The Pier or The Crow’s Nest. For maximum shark saturation, try to schedule your visit during the annual Venice Shark’s Tooth Festival in the spring.
But the most “Venice” experience is to head to Caspersen Beach to find your own shark teeth.
Before you head out, stop by Brittanie’s family’s shop, Shark Frenzy, where Brittanie creates and sells shark tooth art, along with selling the family’s custom Shark Tooth Sifter, scoops, and floating sifters.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2021 issue.
Learn how to identify shark tooth fossils ›
Learn more about shark fossils in A Jaw-Some Collection ›