I wouldn’t have thought Venice Beach was different from any other Florida beach just at first glance. It had the same white sand, the same clear, blue water, the same short, stubby palm trees, fronds swaying in the warm breeze blowing in off the sea. But I knew there was something I couldn’t see yet, something hidden below the surface waiting for my curious eyes and hands to uncover. Shark teeth. I could already imagine running my fingers over the smooth surface of one of my finds, the sharp edges worn soft and round from years spent buried below the sand and silt of the ocean floor.
Geared up and weighed down, I waddled my way across the sand to the water’s edge, my wetsuit hot and stuffy, my scuba tank heavy on my back. But once I got in the water, I bobbed around like a cork, weightless and at ease, ready for the descent. But the closer I got to the bottom, the faster the sunlight disappeared and the inky blackness descended upon me. I felt my fins brush the bottom and adjusted my weight, suspending myself inches above the ocean floor. I looked around annoyed; I couldn’t see anything. I stuck my hand out in front of my face and watched it disappear among the silt and debris floating in the water around me. This was going to be a challenge.
I crawled around on the bottom, dragging myself along by the rocks and coral scattered everywhere, my face inches from the sand. I moved aimlessly, not sure where I was or where I was going, the feeling of disorientation starting to take over. I spent almost an hour flopping around the bottom, all to no avail. I finally popped up near shore and called it quits- I hadn’t found a single tooth. I shuffled out of the water and removed my gear, setting everything down on the beach in defeat. My family lingered near the water’s edge, sifting through the sand as it rolled in with the waves, picking out tiny teeth left and right. I put my mask back on and stuck my face in the shallow water. They were tiny, and I had to fight the mini waves coming in and sweeping them back out to sea, but there they were; I had found them: shark teeth.