While it’s true that Venice Beach has been proclaimed to be the “Shark’s Tooth Capital of the World,” there are also other area beaches that produce bountiful numbers of the prehistoric choppers.

I discovered this while on a Shark’s Teeth and More Family Tour, one of close to a dozen excursions that are produced by Sarasota Suncoast Tours. Romanus Wolter was my group’s very enthusiastic tour guide, and we all met at the Manasota Beach picnic pavilion on a wonderfully overcast morning.

Romanus was accompanied by fellow tour guide Troy Cunningham, because it was technically Romanus’s first time flying solo as a guide. Had he not told us that, we would have never known, because he led the tour like a seasoned pro.

After I met the two men and another couple, Lori and Paul Lanham, we headed down to the beach, where Romanus dispersed our tooth-hunting equipment—”Florida snow shovels” and sifting trays, with covered jars attached, to hold our finds. Lori and Paul teamed up and deftly began scooping up large amounts of sand and depositing it in the sifter, where they found plenty of sharks’ teeth and some pretty shells.

I was feeling a little cocky about my shark tooth hunting skills, since I had found one no more than 60 seconds after I first stepped foot onto the beach, so I decided to forgo the scooper and find my treasures just by looking down. This is when I realized just how many sharks’ teeth there are at Manasota Beach. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that every single time I looked down, I found several, some of them large enough to incorporate into a nice piece of jewelry.

This is where the second part of our tour came in. After we were done at the beach, we caravanned into Downtown Venice, where we parked on Miami Avenue. We walked over to Island Treasures, where Romanus had said there was a jeweler who specialized in using found sharks’ teeth, shells and sea glass to make unique pieces of jewelry. Unfortunately, Island Treasures was unexpectedly closed that day, so we didn’t get a chance to speak to the jeweler, but on a typical tour of this kind, that would be included. I made a silent vow to myself to come back when the store was open, because I really would like to see if anything can be made from a good-sized lemon shark tooth I found at Manasota Beach.

The shop being closed, though, did allow us to start a little early at our last stop, Made in Italy restaurant, on Venice Avenue. As part of the tour, the restaurant provided our table with one of their delicious wood-fired pizzas, the Genovese, which included roasted peppers and eggplant, as well as several cheeses. The owner was nice enough to also include an appetizer called Tronchetti de Brie con Prosciutto, which was out of this world.

As Romanus told me, this particular tour included something for the imagination (the sharks’ teeth), the intellect (had we been able to meet the jeweler that day, he would have told us the origins of all the treasures we had collected), and the appetite, which was definitely satiated at Made in Italy.

Sarasota Suncoast Tours has several other interesting ones, like Ghosts and Gruesomes, which is a creepy walking tour in Downtown Sarasota, and Gods, Goddesses and Myths, which goes over the histories of the interesting statues in St. Armand’s Circle. And you won’t want to miss their culinary tours, which they’re presently running as part of their sister company, Key Culinary Tours.

Debbie Flessner writes the Live Like a Tourist column for the Sun newspapers. You may contact her at dj@flessner.net.

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