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There are a few good places to find teeth in Venice. Personally, I find that Alhambra is the most productive, but that may be because that's where I go 90% of the time.
CBulla has posted directions to Venice beach in a sticky in the Florida Conch Divers section. All of these sites can be found by following his directions to Venice, and using Harbor road, which runs north and south along the shore (although closer to Venice, you are far enough away that you can't see the water).
The furthest north is the public beach. Parking is all close, and you can usually find a parking spot any time of the year. Head out past the swim buoys.
There's showers by the parking lot, and a restaurant here, as well as bathrooms and a convenience store. I don't like this place as much only because there's so many people. I donít really care for crowds.
South of the public beach, is the Alhambra site. It's immediately to the North of the northern most condos, where Alhambra street dead ends. Just park as close to the dead end as you can, but make sure you don't restrict the driveways on the south (into the condos). Walk straight out, past some large white drainage pipes. Looking back at shore, the best chance of finding teeth are between the south side of the northern most condo building (to the south) and three very tall pine trees close together to the north (they'll be obvious). Go out past the sandbar.
I like Alhambra, because it seems to be the most productive to me, and you pretty much share it with just a few beach people and other divers. There are no amenities, though.
South of Alhambra street is the Pier, and there's diving to the north and south of it. You can either park in the parking lot for Sharky's or in another parking lot just to the North next to a Coast Guard substation. Just head West out past the second sandbar.
There's two showers here, one next to a smallish building in the North parking lot, and one next to Sharky's, and, of course, Sharky's itself. It's a good place to eat.
Just south of the pier is another place to dive. There's a couple places to park, one parking lot at the dog park (although I usually go down a little further to a spot on the side of the road where there's a few spots - I don't really like diving with dogs). This is where CBulla and KBulla found their Mastadon leg bone. By far the most impressive thing I've seen found in Venice.
Just like the other sites, head west, and drop past the sandbar.
Casperson beach is the most southern of the beaches. It's got a big parking lot, but you'll want to get there early, as the good spots get taken quickly, and it can be a long walk. This is the primary reason I don't go here very often (I've been twice). Head west and drop past the sandbar.
I think there's showers here, but I don't know of any place to eat.
The Boneyard aka Golden Beach is another site, but is out just far enough that you can't do it as a shore dive without a scooter. I don't have any coordinates, but you'll want to anchor due west of a pair of large, white drainage pipes. There's two sets, acutally, one on each side of the northern most condos South of the Venice Inlet. You want to anchor off the Southern pipes in around 25' of water.
How to find teeth
The beds start in around 13í of water, and continue out as far as you can go on a shore dive. I spend most of my time between 13í and 18í.
After the sandbar, drop and head west. The bottom will either be sand or small rubble, and at the southern spots, small ledges and rock outcroppings along with the Gulfís version of a reef (the northern sites continually get wiped out by the ďrenourishmentĒ projects that increase the dead sand for the snowbirds and destroy the underwater ecosystem).
At the northern sites, thereís not much structure at all (see ďrenourishment). When you do come across rocks or other features, pay attention to the seaward side, otherwise, look for little gullies that run north and south. The bottom of these hold a lot of teeth, mainly Sand Tiger, Bull, and Lemons, with the occasional Tiger, Snaggletooth, Great White (yes, there still are Great Whites in the gulf, but they are extremely rare), and, rarely, a nice meg. The further out you go (in my opinion), the better chance you have of getting something really nice (although I found my first and best tooth in 13í of water, in the sand on the way in- sitting like someone had placed it there). 2th diver often comes back with some very nice teeth, I believe he uses a scooter. Megs are also more common at the boneyard, and theyíve found at least 6 1/2Ēout there.
It the southern sites, examine around ledges, paying special attention to the seaward side and bottom of the ledges (same with any structure). Again, looking for patches of rubble.
You can either dig to find the teeth or just scan the bottom, looking for black triangles (thatís how the look to me, anyway). After you find a couple you will tend to see more as you more aware of what you are looking for. I do both, depending on the conditions. If thereís enough of a current, and the vis is acceptable, Iíll dig, by fanning my hand over the sand, blowing the sand in the direction of the current. Buddies should be east and west and swim into the current, which usually conveniently runs north or south. If you find a few teeth together on the surface, thatís a good place to dig as well. If the vis is not so good (I know, but it does happen), I just scan the bottom. Both seem to work equally well for me.
Also, for nondivers: Right at the edge of the water, thereís usually a ledge (around 1í high). In spots, this has large shell deposits, other times itís made of sand. If you scoop into the shells and look, youíll find sharks teeth here. You can find a dozen or so if you look for an hour.
What you need
A fine mesh bag and a Dive Flag. Florida West Scuba School sells bags that are perfect for collecting teeth for around (I think) 10$-15$. Thatís it, other than your usual kit. You wonít need a flashlight (if the vis is bad, it wonít help). You may want to bring something to dig with (a garden trowel, or something), but I wouldnít bother unless you just really are set on it. Waving your hand is enough.
Tips Be Careful of Boaters
You need to have a flag to dive here, there have been tickets issued to people who were not carrying one. Otherwise the boaters would not have any navigational buoys. Seriously, be aware on your ascents. I try to never come up outside the sandbar. I guess Mexico is too close on the other side and the boaters feel constrained to run right over the area we dive. We have pictures of FWC boats running extremely close to dive flags.
Gear up at the car. In the long run, itís just easier. This makes for a walk across the beach, around 30-50 yards, but it will help keep the sand out of your gear. Anytime I leave my gear on the beach, Itís full of sand. When I do it at the car, much cleaner.
This is an easy dive, and is a good dive for beginning divers, unless the vis is poor. In NAUI, at least, low vis is considered an advanced dive. Usually current here is very slow, and parallel to the beach, but there is the rare rip tide.
How do you know the conditions are good? You donít. Not even if you were there last week. Vis is hit or miss, mostly hit in the summer, mostly miss in the winter. And if the Thanksgiving party is there, itís gonna be a miss! There needs to be a couple of nice days with either no wind or wind out of the east. The best way to tell is to ask on scubaboard. Vis ranges from 0 during Scubaboard parties to as much as 40í.
Water temperature varies from the mid 50ís to the mid 90ís. Itís only cold for a few months, December through February. November is wetsuit weather even for CBulla (maybe even for Walter). You may want to wear at least a skin in case of jellyfish or something. A three mil John and jacket works for me during March and November, Shorty in April and October, skin otherwise (but thatís just me). December through February, well, I just got access to a drysuit . I have done it in a 3mil shorty under a 3mil john/jacket, but after an hour and a half at 57í, couldnít pick up teeth anymore.
Seahorses and pipefish, schools of sheepshead, pinfish, Blue and stone crabs, mantis shrimp (watch out for these), flounder, starfish and sanddollars (If you take a sand dollar, please be sure itís white (dead), if itís grey, itís alive). Iíve never seen a shark, although I did have a good sized remora swim with me once for an hour or so. Walter and I came across a couple of ornamental fish that neither of us could identify.
Iíve mentioned them several times, but the cloest dive shop is Florida West Scuba School. (941) 486-1400. They charter the boneyard, fill air (no nitrox), sell teeth bags, etc. Iíve never heard anything bad about them. Florida west is just over the bridge North of US 41 and Venice ave (an intersection on CBullaís directions).
Great review ReefGuy.
Like Walter said, don't rule out Service Club. I seem to have my best luck there.
They have restrooms and showers.
Florida West does have nitrox, but maybe not while you wait. I usually leave my tanks and pick them up later.